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Contents April 2013

Vol 8 | No 3 | Pages 44

Chairman of the Board

Viveck Goenka

MARKET

Editor

Savaari Car Rentals looks at 10 new cities...........................................................................................................................8

Reema Lokesh*

Interview with Ashish Kishore, country head, dnata India .................................................................................................9

Assistant Editor

IAAI re-elects Biji Eapen as national president .................................................................................................................10

Steena Joy Associate Editor

Sudipta Dev CONTENT TEAM

Jaxtr launches cost-effective global SIM for India outbound .............................................................................................11 GITB 2013 records 5600 pre scheduled B2B meetings .......................................................................................................12 Interview with Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism ...................................................................................................13s

Mumbai

TicketGoose.com looks at a turnover of ` 3000 crore in 5 yrs ...........................................................................................14

Sayoni Bhaduri, Kahini

Jordan emerging as premium destination for Indian travellers...........................................................................................15

Chakraborty

Okinawa tests Indian waters.............................................................................................................................................16

Kolkata

Interview with Karyn Kent, regional general manager - south east Asia, Tourism Australia ...............................................17

Joy Roy Choudhury

Interview with Nishant Kashikar, country manager India, Tourism Australia ...................................................................18

Advisory Board

Rhone-Alps tourism turns focus to India...........................................................................................................................19

Ankur Bhatia, Vijay Chadda,

Qatar Tourism Authority partners with Qatar Airways for international food festival .........................................................19

Saroj Datta, Ashok Fenn,

SIA offers seamless connectivity to Queensland ...............................................................................................................20

Subhash Goyal, Cyrus Guzder,

Banyan Tree doubles numbers from India .........................................................................................................................21

Zubin Karkaria, Ashwini Kakkar, Khursheed Lam,

MANAGEMENT

Tej Sahni, Alok Sawhney, Prem Subramaniam MARKETING Deputy General Manager

Harit Mohanty Chief Manager

Emmanuel Fernandes Manager

Sunil D'costa Deputy Chief Manager

Zahid Ali Khan CIRCULATION

Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION General Manager

B R Tipnis Production Manager

Bhadresh Valia Layout

The village way................................................................................................................................................................27

Ratilal Ladani, Kiran Parker

Travel agents need to adopt a dynamic approach

Asst. Art Director

Interview with Simon Nowroz, global vice president, business development-Travelport. ....................................................31

Surajit Patro Chief Designer

Pravin Temble

EDGE

LIFE

Senior Graphic Designer

Rushikesh Konka Photo Editor

Sandeep Patil

Express TravelWorld Reg. No.-MH/MR/SOUTH156\2013-15 RNI Reg. No.MAHENG/2005/15993 Printed by The Indian Express Limited and published by Ms Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of The Indian Express Press, Plot No. EL-208,TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai - 400710 and Published from Express Towers, 2nd Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021. (Editorial & Administra-tive Offices: Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021)

Exploring MICE ...................................................... Editor Reema Lokesh* Copyright @ 2011

The Indian Express Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited.

April 2013

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Going the extra mile .................... ............................35

REGULARS

Editor’s Note ............................................................................................................................................................6 Appointments ........................................................................................................................................................36 Weekend ................................................................................................................................................................41 www.expresstravelworld.com

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Ticket to the future he month of April will see a lot of action in the tourism space as there are prominent events and marts scheduled to be held across the country and abroad. From The Gujarat Travel Mart, Great India Travel Bazaar (GITB) to the UNWTO regional joint commission meeting in Hyderabad and the 13th annual WTTC Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, this month will throw the spotlight on tourism.

T “No one can complain that railways in India has never acted with foresight and a future vision but it is the lack of standardisation and quality which forces brickbats upon it. Perhaps it is the tug-of-war between profitability and public service that is the challenge”

Amongst the major challenges that Indian tourism faces, the issue of transport is a crucial one. With a turbulent aviation sector and a non-existent cruise business all hopes lie on surface transport. Indian roads are on the path of improvement but it is going to be a long journey. With new ventures and expansion plans in the car rental business it is a positive sign for Indian roads in the future. Then there is the railway. Indian Railways may be a legacy of the British rule but today it is a wholly ingrained part of the Indian culture. Most Indians will have fond memories linked to train travels in India, after all it has continued to be an affordable medium to travel across the country. No one can complain that railways in India has never acted with foresight and a future vision but it is the lack of standardisation and quality which forces brickbats upon it. Perhaps it is the tug-of-war between profitability and public service that is the challenge. Tourism is a direct beneficiary of this criss cross of metal tracks across the country. While luxury trains of India have created a niche for themselves it is the passenger trains that need the focus. Especially since these are the trains which are often the only way to access some of the major tourist destinations in the country. The challenge today for Indian railways is to rise up to its mammoth potential and make people take notice rather than take the services for granted. The month of April or May, may also witness the formal announcement of the hospitality and tourism industry’s answer to NASSCOM. FAITH (Federation of Association in Indian Tourism and Hospitality) will comprise of 10 associations of tourism and hospitality which will be headed by Nakul Anand and is aimed to represent the fraternity with a common voice. Reema Lokesh Editor editorial.etw@expressindia.com

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April 2013


Market

T H E B U S I N E S S O F T R AV E L & TO U R I S M

LEAD STORY

Savaari Car Rentals looks at 10 new cities To create a special booking platform for travel agents SAYONI BHADURI – New Delhi

ar rental company Savaari Car Rentals is planning to expand its reach to ten new cities – Cuttack, Jammu, Jalandhar, Daman, Kumarakom, Tirupati, Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Allapuzha and Daman & Diu. Gaurav Aggarwal, founder and CEO, Savaari Car Rentals said that the aim is to create maximum reach and greater visibility across the country. Launched in the year 2006, Savaari Car Rentals currently services 60 cities across the country with has established a network of 158 vendors. “We have more than three thousand taxis in our fleet,” added Aggarwal. To develop the business further, the company is looking at developing a special platform for smaller travel agents. “We want to capture the business

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potential that lies with tens of thousands of travel agents who are catering to customers locally. We are building a special platform to enable them to book quality car rentals across India. We firmly believe this will add a good revenue stream to these agents and will allow Savaari to reach out to a wide customer base very efficiently,” he added. Explaining their business model Aggarwal said, “At the front end, we are a car rental company to the end customer. So, right from the point that customer gets in touch with us to the point that the customer gets billed, the customer only interacts with Savaari's processes and standards.” At the back end, they have opted for an assetlight model where they aggregate local vendors to provide services to the customers. “We have done this

Gaurav Aggarwal for reasons like the local context that is required in running these kinds of businesses. We have set high standards on who can join

our network. We use the local vendors as building blocks and have built processes on top to control the customer experience with the car and ensure that they get the same quality each time and in any of the 60 cities that we provide our services in,” he added. The rates are agreed upon with the vendors and then a markup is added based on elements like costs, demand and supply within that city, competitive landscape. “We used Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to acquire our retail customers during the initial years and we also used to do Search Engine Marketing (SEM) during peak seasons then to attain visibility. We have effectively used inside sales, in order to reach out to the corporate,” said Aggarwal explaining their marketing initiatives. He added that for

retail customers, they are continuing to use a mix of SEM (with increased spends), SEO, newsletters and re-targeting. “The primary goal for the next two years is to scale our business by creating right awareness about Savaari and the advantages that we bring to both our corporate and retail customers. We are also building technology solutions which will help us scale and provide our customers with even better service and convenience,” he added. The company launched with seed money of `55,000 in 2006 in March 2012, Savaari secured series A funding of `five crore from Inventus Capital Partners. Aggarwal said, “The money will help us to create awareness about Savaari and its offering to scale and to build the right technology solution to achieve the scale.”

Kerala Tourism ready to launch first phase of Muziris Heritage project with four museums STEENA JOY – Thiruvanathapuram

erala Tourism is set to launch the first phase of its ambitious Muziris Heritage project with four museums part of a total of 25 museums concentrated near Fort Kochi and Kodungalloor formerly known as Muziris, an ancient port town of Kerala. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Rani George, director, Kerala Tourism informed, “The Muziris Heritage project encompasses monuments and archaeological sites from a significant era in the history of Kerala. We wanted to develop this project on the lines of the Silk Route. The Pattanam excavation site has revealed that these areas were part of the Spice Route used for spice trading by the Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and the Arabs centuries ago. The heritage site has revealed a lot of synagogues which we have started renovating and converting into museums. A lot of artifacts have been discovered in the Paliam Palace belonging to the Paliam family (an ancient Nair family, Paliam

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was the biggest joint Hindu family in the erstwhile Cochin state of Kerala) and they are being prepared for display in the palace which will also be converted into a museum. Another building of the family, Paliam Nalukettu, will be showcased as a house of that era so that the public can have a glimpse of the life in that period.” She added, “A total of four museums will be opened in the first phase. Along with this we are developing boat jetties and a facilitation centre as we want visitors to go around the place in boats which would have halts at different locations. The Kottapuram Market Place is also being developed. The Chennamangalam synagogue and the Anatapani North synagogue are also being developed as museums. Some of the houses of rich families of that era are being renovated and restored. Excavations are mainly being carried out in the Patapuram and the Kottapuram areas and whatever has been excavated will also be displayed in the museum and the excavation sites will also be opened to the public.”

Rani George Kerala Tourism recently won the National Award for its Kumrakom Rural Tourism project, part of its responsible tourism initiative. The tourism board now plans to take up

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rural tourism in other destinations like Kovalam, Wayanad and Thekkady. Later Bekal and Kumbalangi will be added to the project. Commenting on developing northern Kerala as an integrated tourism circuit, George said, “Most destination development so far has been concentrated in central and south Kerala. But there are many places in the north which can be converted into tourist attractions. Bekal which is in Kasargod district is just one of them. So for all the northern districts we are developing an integrated tourism circuit which will include Wayanad, Kannur, Malapuram, Kozhikode and Kasargod. That is being developed right now. It is getting ready. Maybe next year we may see it getting implemented. Besides that new properties are coming up, constructions are going on. We are promoting these destinations through fairs and road shows, domestic as well as international. We are also supporting Bekal through some infrastructure development mainly support for power supply, water supply, etc.” April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T INTERVIEW

'Corporate travel management segment will grow with the nation's growth' Identifying a potential space in corporate travel management segment, Ashish Kishore, country head, dnata in India talks about the company's business expansion vision. By Kahini Chakraborty

Ashish Kishore

April 2013

What is the business expansion plans of dnata in the coming years in India? dnata’s current focus in India is to offer corporate travel management services to large and mid size corporates. We are offering innovative solutions which will enable corporates to consolidate, control and save on their travel spend. Our use of innovative technology will become an enabler in providing data not only on their spend but also on their users’ behaviour, allowing them to forecast and plan better. Our service offering ranges from corporate travel manager, online booking tool with self profiling, data management and consultancy, meetings and conferences, marine and offshore management, corporate

leisure, visa management and VAT reclaim. Our aim is to offer all solutions under one roof to our corporates, helping them to save more from consolidation. We continue to expand our presence in the country in order to reach out to the market and offer them localised solutions. Which are the travel segments the company focusing on for providing services ? Which segment do you foresee growing the most ? We are focusing on corporate travel management as we have identified a space for a player who can help corporates manage their travel more effectively. This is an area of huge potential and will grow with the nation’s growth. We will also focus on leveraging our

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parentage and offer Dubai centric services such as assistance with Dubai visas, marhaba’s meet and greet services and Dubai holidays. With over seven million Indians reportedly visiting Dubai during 2012 and the count growing over seven per cent every year, we see huge scope in this business line as well. How has your business revenue been last year and how are you looking at increasing your market share in India? Business revenue has been extremely healthy which is evident from the fact that our current team size is about 160 up from 10 last year – when we started. We won some large contracts last year and are actively engaged with new clients. We have a healthy volume of

business leads. We will increase our market share by offering solutions which would allow corporates to manage their travel spend more effectively. Our entire offering is focused around our mission of keeping the promises that we make to our customers. We will engage ourselves with more corporates to understand their requirements and challenges they face and then offer them customised solutions. What is the company's business growth expectation this year? We are targeting to double the revenue this year as we are working on a lower base and we are in the acquisition phase, before we start consolidating to seek operational leverage.

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M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

IAAI re-elects Biji Eapen as national president KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai

he IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) recently held is fifth biennial national convention 'Icon 2013' at the Retreat Hotel and Convention Centre in Mumbai. 'Emerging challenges and opportunities in aviation industry was the theme of the convention'.

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Biji Eapen (chairman and CEO of SpeedWings Aviation Academy) was reelected as the national president at the annual general meeting held after the convention. He has been reelected for the seventh consecutive period by IAAI members. V L Jaghannathan has been reelected as general secretary, while S Saldanha as nation-

al treasurer. The new managing committee members include: Naresh Rajkotia (director western region), Rajendra Churiwala (director east region), Kuku Kumar (director northern region), Surinder Kumar (director northern region), TK Gopakumar (director south region). Commission issue was one of the topics of discussion at the conven-

tion this year on which Eapen also brought out a white paper on the issues. The government and legal affairs committee will be headed by Harjit Singh Chawla of Speed Air; member development committee by Aveek Ghosh, managing director, Travel Wings; tourism and diplomatic committee by Gladys

Stephen (Meena), managing director, Taanya Travels; public relations by Prema Radhakrishnan, director, Emerald Airways; I-Top and computerisation by Jagdeep Bhagat, chairman, Vee Bee Tours & Travels; Industrial and legal affairs by S Faisal, chairman, Magellan Travel Services. These new office bearers will hold the positions for two years.

HP plans three new airports in the state SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

he state of Himachal Pradesh plans to develop three new airports in the state – Ranital, Nadong and Kandaghat. These are to be on a PPP and a BOT mode. “Currently surveys are going on as well as dialogue between the state and government of India and Airports Authority of India is also on. Post the survey a technical appraisal will take place. The funding for the project will be accrued either from the union government or international funding,” Subhasish Panda, director, Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Himachal Pradesh and MD Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation said, “The existing three airports are also to undergo expansion. A study is being conducted by IIT Rourkee to see how Beas river can be contained and channelised to extend

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the existing runway at Bhuntar while land acquisition for Gaggal airport is in process.” The state is also looking out for private investors to develop tourism projects. Panda said, “We have small land banks which we are open to give out to private companies for tourism related projects like golf courses and amusement parks.” There are seven of these land banks which are open for the taking. As to whether HPTDC will be looking at divesting in their resorts Panda was clear that they will not. Discussing the uncontrolled growth in tourism and hotels in Shimla and its ill effects on the area, Panda said that despite all that tourists still want to visit Shimla, but they are also now preferring to stay in the suburbs. “We have recognised the need to decongest Shimla, accordingly current ruling states that only reconstructions and renovations can take place in the core

Shimla area, and no new constructions can take place,” he added. Himachal Pradesh is a natural attraction for people he continued, government's intervention is only to develop capacity and maintain sustainable tourism. “We are

working on a perspective and anticipative planning. A tunnel is being built by the ministry of defense on the way to Lahaul Spiti. This will reduce travel time by 1.5 hours also making it a year round destination,” he said.

India sees 25 per cent decline in foreign tourists arrivals: ASSOCHAM ETW STAFF - New Delhi

oreign tourists inflow into India have registered a significant drop of 25 per cent in the last three months which are the busy tourists season after unfortunate rape incidents reported internally in India, according to quick random survey undertaken by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF). The acts took place specially in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in December last year and has impacted the tourism industry not only in NCR region but also in other major cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahemdabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Dehradun, Agra, etc. ASSOCHAM surveyed 1,200 tour operators from different cities and revealed that there was a fall in tourism business to the extent of 25 per cent. Releasing the ASSOCHAM survey on 'Trends in Tourists inflow in the last three months', D S Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM said that the industry has primarily been impacted due to deteriorating standards of

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safety and security. The inbound foreign tourists have opted other Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam etc. The situation has been further aggravated by the advisory issued by various countries to their citizens visiting India to be cautious and avoid India. The survey further highlights that from December 2012 onwards the inflows of women foreign tourists to the country have gone down by 35 per cent and the overall tourism being affected by 25 per cent. There has been adverse impact on tourism industry, revealed ASSOCHAM. “The reflection of Delhi gang rape is now visible and more pronounced in other metros and large townships,” added Rawat. He pointed out that last year over six lakh tourists had visited various tourists destinations such as Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kashmir valley, Goa, Mysore and Thiruvananthapuram in the winter seasons. But this season, there was a substantial fall of tourist arrival in India compared to last year. It has seriously impacted the inflow of for-

eign tourist to the Maha Kumbh. During last winter season, Goa, Jaipur, Agra, Kerala happened to be highly congested tourist spot but due to recent incidents in India, there has been substantial fall in the tourist traffic, mentioned companies and tour operators. The ASSOCHAM survey revealed that safety and security which has frightened the female tourists the most. “India attempts to enhance its image in the eyes of foreign tourists, a brutal rape case in Delhi and recent incident of Swiss woman in Madhya Pradesh, or to the young British woman who had jump out of the window in Agra to avoid a sexual attack has raised concerns about the safety of female travellers to the country. The crime and woman’s subsequent death generated international attention,” Rawat opined. Nearly 72 per cent of the tour operators said that there has been number of cancellation of booking taken place especially from women tourist in the last three months from UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc. Majority of the tour operators

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said, “Some tourists have e-mailed in asking whether it would be safe to travel and some have changed their mind about travelling to India this year. Those who are determined to visit India are taking extra precautions and avoiding affected areas.” However, travel agencies routinely recommend specific safety measures for female tourists in India and tour operators always recommend that female travellers exercise vigilance and visit tourist spots within certain hours. According to tourism ministry data, in 2012 about 6.6 million international tourist visited India and the country earned US$17.74 billion. The ministry has set the goal of increasing foreign tourist arrivals by 12 per cent a year so as to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016. Rawat also said that the recent crimes against women could impact inbound tourism in long term. So, security needs to be further strengthened at major tourist places and a programme to sensitise the importance of tourism and respect for tourist be continuously held across the country. April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

Jaxtr launches cost-effective global SIM for India outbound SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai

abeer Bhatia, co-founder and CEO of Jaxtr has launched a pre-paid global SIM in India that is 85 per cent cheaper than other options for international travellers. Jaxtr global SIM card had witnessed a successful launch in the US recently. Pointing out that 15 million Indians travel abroad, 86 per cent of them with mobile phones Bhatia stated, “The problem we are addressing is cost of international call. We have created a global SIM card that works in over 200 countries with rates as as low as local calling rates.” In the US the rate is 15 cents/minute locally and internationally to Canada, Mexico, India, China, etc; 15 cents per text; and 60 cents per MB for 3G data. As of now a Jaxtr SIM card come with three local numbers – US, Canada and UK (for whole of Europe), while more are being added. Users have the option to retain a permanent number for a small monthly fee (starting from US$ one per month). Jaxtr is a pre-paid SIM card with no rental fee. “The concept is pay as you go. In India we are selling it for `600. The other features are – multiple local numbers on same SIM card. After you are back in India, we will be forwarding your text messages to your number here and voice mail to an email account of your choice,” mentioned Bhatia. The other benefits include special features for corporates, for

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April 2013

25th UNWTO regional joint commission meeting to be held in Hyderabad ETW STAFF - Mumbai

he 25th joint meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for South Asia and the UNWTO Regional Commission for East Asia and the Pacific will be held in Hyderabad, India from April 12-14, 2013. The key topics this year will include: UNWTO´s Programme of Work for the Region; analysis of Tourism Towards 2030 (UNWTO´s long-term international tourism forecast) and its implications for the Asia-Pacific Region; other statutory issues related to the UNWTO Asia-Pacific Member States. This year, the joint commission meeting will be held in conjunction with a one-day, regional conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, which will examine the environmental, socio-cultural and economic longevity of the travel and tourism industry in light of its rapid growth, both internationally and domestically. The CSA/CAP Joint Commission meeting is UNWTO´s principal annual event in the Asia Pacific region, attended last year by over 60 representatives from UNWTO member states, 10 UNWTO affiliate members and numerous international and regional organisations including UNEP, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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example if a company buys 5000 Jaxtr SIM cards then there will be a consolidated bill for all the SIM cards. Bhatia pointed out that international call rates are much cheaper on Jaxtr because the calls are carried on the company's own network. “We have the best price global SIM as we have our own network except for the last mile connectivity for which we have partners in 200 countries,” he stated. Yogesh Patel, president and co-founder, Jaxtr added, “The key difference is about who owns what network and what is primarily a market play.” The sales strategy is focus after the travel market, the company is also partnering with international travel portals.

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M|A|R|K|E|T INBOUND

GITB 2013 records 5600 pre scheduled B2B meetings ETW STAFF - New Delhi

he Great Indian Travel Bazaar will be held from April 14-16, 2013 at BM Birla Convention Center, Jaipur, Rajasthan. The event already has 5600 pre scheduled meetings fixed between buyers and sellers. The exhibition will have 286 foreign buyers registered from 57 countries. So far 240 Indian sellers have been registered and the event will have 252 stalls across six halls in the exhibition area. Gujarat will be the theme state of the event apart from partner states which include: Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttarakhand.

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Himachal Pradesh and Punjab Tourism. The inaugural address is likely to be given by Dr K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, Government of India and special address by Bina Kak, tourism minister, Rajasthan; Usha Sharma, additional director general, ministry of tourism, Government of India; Rakesh Srivastava, principal secretary tourism, Government of Rajasthan. The theme address will be presented by Dr Jyotsna Suri, VP – FICCI and chairperson - FICCI Tourism Committee. The inaugural session will be moderated by Dr Arbind Prasad, director general, FICCI and welcome address will be given by Sidharth Birla, senior vice president, FICCI.

Indian states keen to draw film makers; looking at single window clearance Shoot at Site discusses challenges and solutions of film making and tourism SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

nderstanding that films are an easy and fail-safe way of promoting a destination, Indian states are looking at setting up single window clearances for film makers. States of West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh present at Shoot at Site by FICCI held in Mumbai, put forth their plans to promote film shootings in their state. Taking a proactive step, Vikram Sen, principal secretary, tourism department, Government of West Bengal informed, “The state has created a nodal officer in the I&CA department for the purpose.” There are four government film studios, 10 private ones and three additional shooting floor. The state will also provide financial incentives for locations upto `two lakh, he added. Similarly, Subhashish Panda, director tourism and civil aviation, Himachal Pradesh and MD HPTDC assured that no film maker will face difficulties in shooting in the state. He informed that the tourism department is the nodal office for issuing clearances for shoots. The state of Gujarat will help facilitate and get discounts on government accommodations at locations. Manoj Gursahani, chairman, Travelmartindia who was representing MTDC informed

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that the tourism think tank of the state is contemplating reducing cost for locations in Mumbai in the future. “There is also a plan to create a directory of line producers that will be put up online,” he added. Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury, minister-incharge, department of tourism, Government of West Bengal expressing the state government's keenness to bring in more films said, “Government is encouraging filming opportunities in the state. We have developed new studios and sound system set up in the state. Apart from Bengali and Hindi films, West Bengal has seen many international films being shot here.” The other ministerial presence at the event was Hasanul Haq Inu, minister of information, Government of People's Republic of Bangladesh. He said that film tourism is a travel motivator. “As it is expanding with the growth of the entertainment industry and the increase of travel facilities around the globe, we need to see how it matters to us,” he added. He called upon producers, directors and investors to consider making a film on the War of Liberation of Bangladesh. Speaking about Shoot at Site, Dr Arbind Prasad, director general, FICCI said that this was a unique initiative from FICCI as films are a great way to sell destinations

which bring in more tourists. Also present at the Shoot at Site was Dr Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group; VP FICCI and chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee who said that this was a great initiative to promote India as a location for films. Her thoughts were taken forward by film director Gautam Ghose who sang praises of the great contrasts that India has to offer to film makers. “The country is not homogenous with such diversity, and therein lies story ideas,” he said. Other speakers discussed challenges of film making in new locations, how to tackle them and how tourism can benefit from film making endeavours. Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions www.expresstravelworld.com

said, “We go to international locations because of the convenience and the ease of shooting. In India, if we have to go to remote locations we would not even know who to approach for the required permissions. Then there is the red tape and hierarchy which needs to be massaged. A foreign film maker would not know who to go to, I am not sure if the Indian consulates abroad also have these necessary information.” Colin Burrows, CEO, Special Treats commented that promises are one thing and action are another; it is important to stay on top of the government officials. Catherine McDonnell, head of business and legal affairs, Fox Studios Australia said

that while conducting reconnaissance trips with film makers, it is important to showcase sites that are easily accessible and would not create hassles. “This is much more preferable to showing exotic locations which are sensitive and will cause difficulties in gaining permissions for shooting. Also tourism boards can easily use films shot at locations to promote the destinations,” she said. Shoot at Site was also a platform for the launch of two reports of films and tourism – FICCI - Yes Bank study on ‘Film Tourism: India as the Next Hot Spot’ and an Ernst & Young report on ‘Roadmap to Single Window Clearance for Film Production in India.’ April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T INTERVIEW

‘We are planning waterway transport on the backwaters, ropeways and a holistic health resort on the PPP model’ In an exclusive interview, Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism tells why winning the National Tourism Award for its Kumarakom rural tourism project, is the perfect start to a year during which the tourism board is set to launch its seaplane project and work aggressively towards positioning Kerala as the home of Ayurveda. By Steena Joy

Suman Billa

Kerala being the birthplace of Ayurveda, how effective has been the two tier classification (Green Leaf and Olive Leaf) system in standardising the science in the state? You cannot undermine the importance of classification especially when it involves something like Ayurveda. When a tourist travels here, he needs to be assured that what he pays for is what he gets. Ayurveda is unfortunately not like a hotel room which can be viewed online. It involves medication so we have to ensure not only the infrastructure but also that the manpower is well trained, that the medicines used in the treatment are of appropriate quality so that the health of the patient is not compromised. So the two tier classification was introduced – Green Leaf pertains to five-star standard while Olive Leaf is three-star. So whichever standard a tourist chooses, he is assured that he is in safe hands. Ayurveda is a traditional science so people can be easily fooled. When we go for the inspection, we check not only the premises, but also the staff working there and how trained they are and their educational qualifications. How can you ensure a steady stream of trained manpower for the sector? There are two types of manpower needed in the Ayurveda sector: one is the doctors who are critical to the

April 2013

treatment. Thankfully we have good medical colleges and medical institutions in Kerala so the doctor pool is sufficient. Then we also have the reputed institutions of excellence like Kottakal Arya Vaidyashala, Vaidyaratan and Nagarjuna who have been practicing unbroken Ayurveda for many centuries. At the second level we have the masseurs and the therapists for whom there are courses conducted by the Kerala Institute of Travel and Tourism Studies (KITTS). There are also courses done by Ayurveda practitioners like Pankaja Kasturi College of Ayurveda in the private sector. So all this ensures a steady stream of well trained manpower for the sector. The responsibility to ensure that the therapists work well lies with the doctor. When is the seaplane project expected to take off? The seaplane project will be launched by this April end. The three international airports at Thiruvanathapuram, Kochi and Calicut and perhaps even Mangalore will be used as the hubs for the seaplane operations. The cost of the first phase is `13 crore for constructing the infrastructure like floating jetties, security screening equipment, etc. We w ill be charging an operating fee from the aviation companies. So far, five companies have expressed interest in starting operations. We have an Open Sky policy. We will create the infrastructure and anyone can come and fly as long as they have the aircraft and all the clearances from the DGCA. Initially the tourist destinations that will be connected will be Ashtamudi, Kollam, Kumarakom. Punnamada in Alleppey, Munnar and Bekal. Are any public private partnership (PPP) projects in the pipeline? Some projects do not straightaway attract investment but which also have the potential to catalyse the www.expresstravelworld.com

growth of tourism in Kerala. We take up these kind of projects on PPP model. We are planning waterway transport on the backwaters, ropeways in hilly terrains and an holistic health resort with all services like spa under one roof. For all these ideas we will support private participation. What steps are being taken to make Kerala a zero waste destination? There are two or three ideas we are working on. The problem is that there is a standard of hygiene that is expected of a major tourist destination and it is necessary to involve the local bodies. So we decided to let the local panchayats do their work of collecting the garbage; community groups like Kudumbashree are also involved in this. We have spent around `five to six crore every year in organising this in Kumarkom and Kovalam. After collection, disposal of garbage was also a huge problem. To address this problem, we started a biogas plant on pilot basis in Kumbalangi many years ago. But the need for such plants was not felt so much. But now the problem has come back so we are putting up such plants in places with heavy tourist traffic like Kumarakom. We are involving the local households as well as Suchitwa Mission. While the households will bear 10 per cent of the cost of the equipment, Suchitwa will contribute 40 per cent and the Kerala government will fund the rest 50 per cent. In return, households will get cheap power for their homes. Are homestays in Kerala maintaining the quality benchmarks set by the tourism department? Like Ayurveda we have a classification system for homestays too like Diamond House, Gold House and Silver House. Of late there has been a profileration of homestays. But we don't see any grave need to pull them up as this is a source of livelihood for many homes. We prefer it to

remain more of a voluntary classification system. Homestay owners know that they can attract tourists only if they meet the standards. So the pull should work more than the push. How will you use art fests like Utsavam and Nishagandhi to drive tourism? The Nishagandhi is a high profile festival which attracts the finest artists of the country to Kerala while Utsavam is more localised and for providing sustenance to local artists. Utsavam is doing a wonderful job and will continue. Nishigandhi being a premium gathering we plan to ramp it up to the global level. This year we instituted the first Nishagandhi Puraskar which was awarded to Mrinalini Sarabhai. We want to make Nishagandi not just as a art festival but as a platform to discuss and ideate about culture with workshops and seminars. Next year onwards there will be live webcast/live streaming of the event. So enthusiasts can watch it from anywhere in the world. What is the average length of stay of the international tourist in Kerala? The average length of stay is 17.6 days for the international traveller and this is largely because of Ayurveda. Visitors who come for Ayurveda are the long duration high paying international travellers. That's why it makes sense for Kerala Tourism to focus on this segment. What about promoting the MICE segment? The problem with MICE is that we do not have the facilities to hold huge gathering. MICE works completely on volumes. But it can also be profitless volumes so it has to be played carefully. Often the MICE venues here are being used more for marriages than for corporate events. Hopefully we will soon have one international convention centre in Thiruvanathapuram based on the PPP model. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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TripCrafters.com connects 15000 travellers with travel agents SAYONI BHADURI Mumbai

reating an online marketplace that connects travellers with destination specialist travel companies in India, 18 month old TripCrafters.com has connected 15000 travellers with specialist travel agents. Vivek Kundnani, co-founder, TripCrafters.com said, “We estimate that over 1000 tours have materialised via TripCrafters.com, generating over `four crore revenues for our travel agents.” The web site connects leisure travellers with three destination specialist travel companies in India. “We have over 1000 travel agents from all over India. Some international travel agents are also registered with us but 95 per cent are from India,” he added.

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With a strong focus on the quality of the travel agent Kundnani informed that they are adding three to five new agents every day. When a new travel agent registers, their credentials are reviewed and only those are approved who are legitimate and genuine. “Some factors we consider are years in business, specialisation, destination expertise, memberships and affiliations with travel associations, number of employees, number of branches, etc,” he explained. Once they are approved to use TripCrafters.com's platform, marketplace dynamics takeover, reviews and ratings from customers on an ongoing basis help new clients in making informed decisions while working with any travel agent. “We have a judi-

cious approval process and we don’t approve all of them. We aim to more than double our travel agent user base by the end of the year,” he said. Kundnani goes onto explain that the travel agents can grow their business by accessing qualified, highintent travellers. This also magnifies their reach to travellers across the globe. “We help them build their brand with reviews and ratings of past customers. We are to travel agents what TripAdvisor is to hotels. There is a large trust deficit in the travel industry especially towards travel agents. Reviews from past travellers helps overcome that and allows potential customers to book with confidence,” he summed up. The website follows a pay-

per-lead model. But in the future Kundnani said, “A number of travel agents have asked us for sponsored listings, featured tour packages, etc, which we will soon incorporate in the revenue mix. We have a couple more revenue streams in the pipeline which we can’t disclose at this point.” TripCrafters.com is currently self-funded from the savings of its three cofounders. “We are hiring aggressively and continue to invest in the growth of our start-up. Additionally, we have been generating revenue since the second month of our launch, which eases the investment burden. We will reach out to outside investors when it makes business sense for all parties involved,” he added.

Goibibo.com to increase travel offerings by April 2013 KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai

oibibo.com, a part of the MIH India Group, is going to add trains, holidays and outbound hotels inventory onto the website by April this year. The company is also focusing on advancing its technology and customer care services. Talking to Express TravelWorld, Sanjay Bhasin, managing director, Goibibo.com said, “With about 10 per cent of the total sales accounted from mobile, the scenario is likely to

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change to around 30-40 per cent with the development of 4G and 3G now performing as it should be. Going by this understanding the company is very focused on investing in technological advancements and tapping the mobile segment- Android, iOS, HTML 5, Microsoft version.” Since the company concentrates on the B2C segment to double its business growth, its parent company Naspers which took over Gurgaon-based travel company Tek Travels, which owns B2B travel portal Travel

Boutique Online, handles the B2B space in the Indian market. Goibibo.com recently also launched Flight Advice – a recommendation engine for international flights. Traditionally flights are sorted based on lowest prices. Goibibo Flight Advise learns from user search pattern and then ranks the flights based on its cancellation policy, duration taken, stops, fares etc to deliver the most relevant results. While on the mobile segment it launched

Goibibo Mobile app flight bookings, it is soon going to add the bus vertical and hotels to complete the mobile offering. Talking about the current travel trends, Bhasin opined, “Adventure tours and weekend gateways are the current travel trends seen among travellers these days. Although the number of travel days have reduced, the number of trips have increased. Travellers are keen to take more number of shorter duration holidays.”

TicketGoose.com looks at a turnover of ` 3000 crore in 5 yrs SAYONI BHADURI - Chennai

nline bus ticket aggregation company TicketGoose.com is looking at reaching a turnover of ` 3000 crore in five years time. Arun Athiappan, co-founder and CEO, TicketGoose.com said, “We believe that we will reach this figure, when we should be booking around one lakh tickets a day.” In 2011-12 the turnover for the company was ` 22.5 crore and for 2012 - 13 they project a turnover of ` 50 crore. Discussing investments

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in the company Athiappan informed that the company has invested close to ` seven crore in building the portal and establishing their B2B networks. “B2C has been mostly through word of mouth. We are looking at investing heavily on the B2C segments and garnering a significant market and mind share,” he added. TicketGoose.com currently works with close to 750 operators pan India and connecting about 4482 cities/small towns across the country. TicketGoose.com is also in talks with the concerned

Arun Athiappan www.expresstravelworld.com

authorities at the state transport corporation to include their bus network, “However working with the government has its own challenges and when they have their own web portal for the respective states, and it becomes even more challenging for the tie-up. And even on the customer base that we cater too, it will be a completely different customer profile that we would be catering if we get into this model, however our product development team is working on the same,” said Athiappan.

The company's in-house sales force is spread across the major cities in south India – Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune who rope in channel partners. “For direct online sales, we concentrate on the corporate and college students. With corporate we have attractive schemes, group travel options, dedicated services, and with students we have a well thought out branding plan that involves creating business opportunities to students, making them young entrepreneurs,” he explained. April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T OUTBOUND

Jordan emerging as premium destination for Indian travellers Visa on arrival for Indians expected to boost tourist arrivals SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

ordan has witnessed a steady growth in numbers from the Indian market in the past few years. According to Ashit Taneja, country head, Jordan Tourism Board, India Office all sectors have been equally active and Indians are increasingly looking at Jordan as a premium destination for MICE, leisure, religious travel, honeymoon travel and family holidays. “The key destinations in Jordan that will interest high-end travellers are Amman, Aqba, Petra, Dead Sea and Wadi Rum,” said Taneja. “The relationship between India and Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan goes back a long way and both the countries share extremely friendly relations which reflects in every aspect such as politics, economy and culture. The Jordanian government, thus, in a move to encourage tourism offers visa on arrival (VOA) to Jordan for Indian tourists,” mentioned Taneja. He pointed out that Jordan Tourism Board is promoting the MICE segment by offering VOA. It is only valid for a group of five people or more with confirmed return flights,

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Ashit Taneja confirmed hotel bookings and available cash of US$ 1000. “We also offer uniform visa fees for all nationalities. We offer group visas that are available free of charge when arranged through DMC’s or tour operators. MICE groups and FIT groups from India do not need to fill out any visa paperwork as they can avail of VOA when they land in Jordan's Queen Alia International Airport,” said Taneja. With the new terminal opening in Jordan’s International Airport, more airlines will be flying into the country. Taneja believes that opening of the new ter-

minal will encourage outbound travel from India to Jordan right in time for the holiday season. The new 103,000-square-metre terminal can handle 12 million passengers annually, compared with the old terminal’s 3.5 million-passenger capacity. Jordan offers modern infrastructure, resorts, convention centers, four and five-star hotels in all its important landmarks and cities to encourage the meetings and incentives sector. “It is also a very family-friendly destination for a holiday and is also rated as one of the top

romantic countries which makes it an exotic honeymoon destination,” added Taneja. A culturally rich land, Jordan is famous for its vivid landscapes. The essential destinations include the Petra, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, to the Dead Sea, flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west. “We are expecting spectacular growth from the India market in the coming years. We would also like to announce that American Express Middle East has made Jordan a must-visit

tourist destination this year. The one of a kind 'Experience Jordan' destination campaign, offers travellers the opportunity to access a wide range of airline, car rental, designer shopping, dining, leisure and well-being special offers, simply by using their American Express Cards,” said Taneja. Organised in association with the Jordan Tourism Board, 'Experience Jordan' enables travellers to take advantage of exclusive offers and benefits which have been specially selected and developed by American Express Middle East.

Sepang International Circuit promoted as MICE, events venue SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

ormula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has been an important tourist draw in Malaysia for almost 15 years. While Tourism Malaysia promotes F1 primarily in the ASEAN countries, which constitutes a significant section of spectators, now India is also being targeted in response to the increase in arrivals from India in the last few years. Dato Razlan Razali, CEO, Sepang International Circuit, was in India recently to promote F1 and create awareness of SIC as a MICE and events venue. “In the last few years we have seen a lot

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Dato Razlan Razali of interest from India. From less than 400 Indian visitors in 2010 to less than 1000 in www.expresstravelworld.com

2011, last year we received 4000 spectators. India is an emerging market for us. Our tickets are one of the cheapest for F1 Grand Prix in the world,” said Razali. Pointing out that there is more to SIC than F1 and MotoGP, Razali informed that SIC is targeting the MICE segment, event organisers and MNCs with a large employee base, Razali said, “What we are offering is Sepang as a venue. We use the same venue that F1 utilises, including the media facility, Paddock Club (for annual dinners, seminars, etc), five-star deluxe catering. The total capacity is 2000 pax. Even our media centre can be used for seminars, presentations, work-

shops.” Except for accommodation (hotel), SIC can be an interesting location for events ranging from dealer meets to weddings. The special experiences include Lotus Driving Experience, that is driving a few laps in a Lotus, Porsche or go cart, on the F1 track. There is also the ATV circuit tour. “Our biggest corporate event two years ago was headed by the India office of Shell Global comprising 1000 delegates. We had to organise for 25 Ferraris. They had brought Ferrari test drivers,” informed Razali. Last December a MICE group of 600 delegates from India were in SIC for another unique team experience. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|R|K|E|T OUTBOUND

Okinawa tests Indian waters SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

he prefecture of Okinawa, off the coast of mainland Japan, is testing Indian tourism waters. Rui Kinjo, coordinator, overseas marketing section, Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau said that they see a potential from the India market, which is why they are keen on creating awareness about the destination amidst the travel agents community in India. “Travel agents can sell Okinawa with Hong Kong, Macau and other similar destinations. Okinawa has huge potential if sold with Hong Kong,” she added. The strong connectiv-

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ity with mainland Japan will also allow Okinawa to be paired up with them. Okinawa received six million visitors and interestingly 95 per cent were domestic travellers. “We are now looking at developing our international tourism business. Our biggest source market currently is Taiwan,” said Kinjo. Okinawa is a mix of 160 small and big islands, of these 40 are uninhabited. The province has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. “Some of the activities that we are looking to promote in India includes longevity of life, diving, whale watching and the American village,” said Kinjo.

‘VisitEngland is keen to work with various stakeholders in the MICE market’ In an exclusive interview, Reem Khokhar, regional manager - Asia Pacific, VisitEngland, lists out the unique MICE experiences that England can offer to Indian businesses. By Steena Joy Considering that England has a long historic relationship with India, how does VisitEngland view the India market? Whether to visit friends or relatives; to study; to conduct business; or to holiday, England remains a key outbound destination for Indian visitors. At VisitEngland, we're keen to get visitors to explore more of England, especially for business visits and events. The MICE market in India will find so many great options for events, meetings, conferences, exhibitions and incentives across the country and this is an area we are keen to work with various stakeholders on. For most Indians England has always been about London. How does VisitEngland plan to change this perception? Creating awareness about the various destinations, venues and events across England is what we are working on. Corporate hospitality groups around sports events like the upcoming Champions Trophy 2013 or the British Golf Open Championship in 2014 or Wimbledon; high end incentive groups who are looking along with their

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Manchester, coasteering in Devon and Cornwall or racing around the Silverstone circuit. For conferences, the fantastic cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Brighton have purpose built conference centres, a great selection of accommodation and unique venues for receptions or gala dinners as well as great entertainment, nightlife and dining options.

Reem Khokhar meetings or conference for distinctive experiences. Whether it is doing an event at Warwick Castle with a medieval theme or a gala dinner at the impressive Brunel's SS Great Britain, the world's oldest steamship; hiring hot air balloons at the International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol where the group can sail into the air along with hundreds of hot air balloons in a spectacular mass ascent; being entertained by a Beatles tribute band over a cocktail reception at the Beatles Story in Liverpool; bungee jumping in

What are the promotions VisitEngland has planned for the Asia market and India in particular? In India, we intend on working with the MICE trade including travel management companies, event managers, conference organisers, etc as well as engage with corporates and international associations based in India. Creating awareness of the variety of MICE venues and experiences available not just in London, but all of England is what we are working on. MICE brochures on England with some MICE travel trade partners; hosting MICE trade and corporate networking events in a few cities; participating in various MICE B2B events through the year; organising FAM trips; training www.expresstravelworld.com

workshops and sales missions are some of the ways in which we are highlighting and promoting business travel into England. Delhi (NCR), Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune are some of the cities where we are engaging with corporates and MICE trade; but also key cities like Ahmedabad and areas like Punjab. We attend several B2B shows in Asia, and are working on opportunities generated with some of the key contacts we meet through these shows. Doing specific MICE supplements with some Asia-Pacific publications and exploring regional press trip opportunities are some of the ways in which we intend on working with the larger Asia-Pacific region. Tapping the international associations based in this region who host their annual conferences in the European region, is something we will be working on and identify the opportunities for bringing some of those conferences to England. The Beatles have been quite popular in India too and so is the Glastonbury Music Festival. Are you planning to

promote any music related tours in the India market? We don't currently have any music related promotions planned, but exploring corporate hospitality opportunities around cultural festivals or doing a Beatles tour of Liverpool or a cocktail reception at the Beatles Story in Liverpool for a corporate group, or music tours of various cities are some of the opportunities that we will weave into the content we promote as part of MICE/incentive itineraries; advertisements; brochures and any other promotional material we produce. Any other niche products VisitEngland is planning to promote in the region? The distinctive and high quality of experiences available for business visits and events. Especially for frequent business travellers who are looking for different meeting venues or a special experience for their group, everything from castle experiences to corporate hospitality around sports events or cultural festivals; how all leisure opportunities double up as opportunities for corporate events and venues there is really no dearth of great experiences available across England. April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T INTERVIEW

‘Our 2020 Strategic Plan identifies India as a key emerging market’ As visitor arrivals from India into Australia show a steady growth, Karyn Kent, regional general manager – south east Asia, Tourism Australia, says that Indians are being seen as more willing to experiment with their travel itineraries. By Steena Joy Tourism Australia (TA) has seen a strong growth in the last year from Asian markets which have been comparatively less challenged by recession vis-à-vis Europe. Please comment. Asia’s economic prospects are estimated to be brighter than the western markets over the next decade. There are enormous opportunities provided by Asia’s fast emerging and increasingly mobile middle classes. Seven out of the top 10 inbound markets in terms of visitor numbers in 2012 were from Asia. Visitors from Asia represented 43 per cent of total international arrivals to Australia with great potential for continued growth from markets like India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and in time, Vietnam. Difficult economies have no doubt dampened performance out of the UK and Western Europe, but as their economies recover we should start to see the Europeans return in better numbers. TA will retain a balanced portfolio approach to our international marketing in 2013 and beyond. Which are the new emerging markets for TA? What is the expected growth from these markets? Our 2020 Strategic Plan identifies south and south east Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Gulf countries, as key emerging markets which will drive tourism into Australia including India. Till the year 2020, Asia is expected to contribute more than half of the projected growth in international visitation. Most countries in Asia have growing economies with good consumer confidence; burgeoning growth in the middle class, and Australia enjoys strong destination appeal within these markets. What is the marketing strategy TA plans to use to tap the potential in south east Asia? Our current global brand campaign, 'There’s nothing like Australia', is resonating April 2013

Karyn Kent well. We will continue to build on this campaign with a focus on showcasing ‘Best of Australia’ destinations and experiences through our consumer focused activities while also evaluating opportunities to undertake suitable branded content initiatives that help showcase the destination and experiences in greater depth. In addition to our brand campaign, efforts will also be directed towards fostering aviation partnerships where airlines will be encouraged to advertise their Australian services and we will also have tie ups with our distribution partners. How does TA view the India outbound market? The past decade has seen a steady rise in visitor arrivals from India to Australia. Starting from a low base of 41,000 in 2000 Indian arrivals have grown to reach 159,420 visitors in 2012 and is currently the 10th largest inbound market for arrivals into Australia. India is one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets and to effectively tap into this potential, we have developed the India 2020 Strategic Plan to strengthen Australia’s position as a destination of choice amongst Indian long haul leisure travellers. Long haul holiday travel by Indians is developing fast as global travel is becoming www.expresstravelworld.com

an integral part of the Indian lifestyle; however outbound travel still remains at the nascent stage. Easy access to information also helps to have a rising number of well informed and well researched potential travellers. With an increase in the frequency of travel, Indian travellers are being seen as more willing to experiment and indulge in newer experiences, in moving beyond the typical. However, largely, primary interests in sightseeing and shopping experiences still continue to dominate typical international traveller itineraries. To aid our understanding of the Indian traveller, we have conducted some research studies that have shown interesting insights into their likes and preferences. We intend to use the findings to tailor our communication to potential travellers from India to influence the choice of their next holiday destination. As per a recent TA survey, Indians rank Australia as the top nation for safety, natural beauty, friendliness, food and wine. What is TA's marketing strategy to promote the wine regions in Australia? Australia’s food and wine are inspired by fresh, natural produce and influenced by our multicultural society. Recent research conducted by TA highlights that global travellers rank food and wine in Australia to be amongst the best in the world. To capitalise on this attractiveness, we recently entered into a partnership with Wine Australia. As part of the MoU, Wine Australia and TA will partner on a range of marketing activities such as advertising and consumer promotions, digital marketing, public relations, and special events. In India, having associated with the television reality show ‘MasterChef Australia’ as presenting sponsors has helped us increase the appeal of food and wine experiences available in Australia and we will contin-

ue play up food and wine in telling the Australian story. How does Australia compare to south east MICE hotspots like Thailand and Singapore? Business events is one of the highest yielding sectors in Australia’s visitor economy with a potential to contribute up to $16 billion annually by the year 2020. Australia has a competitive advantage in its native wildlife, coastal lifestyle, vast outback and vibrant cities that are highly motivating reasons for corporate to choose Australia to incentivise their top performers. It offers an exceptional range of top-end corporate meeting experiences and unique incentive options - that provide the perfect atmosphere to reward and energise. With the fast growth of the professional industries and sales based economies across Asia, there is great potential for Australia to attract greater numbers of business events visitors over the next decade. According to data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Business Events (BE) segment recorded an increase of 11 per cent for 2012 over the previous year. What will be TA's marketing spend in 2013? What are the promotions lined up? In addition to our ongoing ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ campaign, we recently launched the 'Best Jobs in the World' initiative in association with our state and territory partners. This initiative is a global campaign, predominately targeting the youth sector to consider Australia as a working holiday destination, but at the same time showcases the amazing range of experiences that can be found across Australia. It amplifies our ‘There's Nothing Like Australia’ message that Australia is a wonderful, world class destination full of unique experiences, adventure and great places to explore. Marketing spends will be commensurate to effectively deliver our planned marketing initiatives. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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‘We look at business travel at par with leisure’ Nishant Kashikar, country manager India, Tourism Australia speaks about the India market and why it ranks high on Australia's tourism agenda. By Steena Joy A total of 6.1 million international visitors arrived in Australia last year, an annual increase of 4.6 per cent, the primary source of growth being the Asian markets. Where does India rank in this growth? Asian markets contribute to seven out of the top ten source destinations for Australia, and there is a great opportunity for Australian tourism in the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing economy, travel and aviation markets on the planet. Key source markets in Asia driving overall arrivals to Australia include China (including Hong Kong), Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. India is recognised as one of the key Asian markets driving growth and is currently Australia’s 10th largest inbound tourism market. For the 2012 calendar year, there were 159,420 visitors from India to Australia, an increase of 7.5 per cent relative to the same period last year. Australia saw 89,240 Indian leisure visitors (56 per cent of total visitors), 28,860 business travellers (18 per cent of total visitors) and 13,370 students (eight per cent of total visitors). Of the leisure visitors, 58,120 travelled to either visit friends or relatives. The Tourism Forecasting Council predicts 175,000 arrivals from India to Australia in 2013. Arrivals from India are expected to perform well, with an average annual financial year growth rate of 7.2 per cent through to the financial year 2020-21. How does Tourism Australia (TA) plan to use social media as a marketing tool? And how does India figure in this online strategy? TA's Social Media Programme focuses on stimulating conversations about Australia through key platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram to influence travellers venturing online to research a future holiday. Our Facebook page has over four million global fans. We mainly post user-generated content, which encourages fans to continue sharing their own stories and experiences on an ongoing basis. The 'Things to do' tab on TA's Facebook fan page allows the Australian tourism

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industry to add their pages and events directly onto the Australian page. Acting as an online directory for fans of Australia, the tab allows users to search for places and events by location, experience and date - and then click through to find more. For our campaign ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ in India, in addition to a new broadcast ad and print executions, we have also had a strong digital focus. This includes amplifying our global social media initiatives – we currently have close to 120,000 Indian fans on our global Facebook page – and are evaluating opportunities to have an engaging activity to promote Australia on social media platforms that our audience is active on, including LinkedIn. We also encourage our travel partners to motivate conversations on Australia using their social media networks. How is Australia growing as a MICE hub vis a vis strong competition from short haul destinations like Singapore? Australia features in the consideration set of medium to large sized corporate entities that are keen to incentivise their top performers with unique experiences that are amongst the world’s best. With corporates looking at experiential trips to wow their teams, MICE travel is no longer restricted to traditional destinations and experiences. This progression has opened up a lot of opportunities for us and we look at business travel at par with leisure. There were 28,860 business arrivals into Australia during 2012 and the segment contributed to 18 per cent of total inbound tourists into Australia. With the visit of over 4,000 Amway India delegates to Melbourne in December, the convention and conference arrivals registered an impressive 33 per cent growth 2012. As part of our promotional initiatives for this segment, we collaborate with the convention bureaus and travel agents specialising in MICE to promote the business events segment in India through various on-ground trade events, corporate familiarisation programmes and other marketing initiatives. Over the past two

Famil and Workshop held in Melbourne during September 2012 witnessed participation from Singapore Airlines, Silk Air, Virgin Australia, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas, who engaged with potential Indian agents. Our consumer marketing initiatives have also included collaborations with Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines on tactical campaigns offering great value deals to potential travellers.

Nishant Kashikar years, we have hosted approximately 35 corporates, along with five MICE specialist agents to showcase the business events facilities offered by Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast. India-Australia is a largely untapped market with significant potential, given both the volume of trade, tourism and VFR traffic between the two nations, yet it remains without direct air service. Any chances of a change in the scenario? One of our challenges in the past years has been direct aviation connectivity to Australia from India. Most Indian travellers to Australia presently travel through south east Asian hubs such as Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Aviation capacity is critical to Australia achieving the India 2020 potential. Supporting a sustainable and competitive aviation market will be the focus of the Aviation Development Strategy. As part of the India 2020 plan, Tourism Australia is working with Indian and south east Asian carriers to identify opportunities for the Australia-India route and provide partnership solutions. The strategy also aims to add value to the work already being done by states, territories, regions and airports. Our focus has been on building partnerships with airlines using the ‘One-Voice’ approach along with our state and territory partners and working towards common objectives of increasing traffic to Australia from India. As part of our trade events programme, The India Mega www.expresstravelworld.com

Destinations like Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne have for long been favourites of Indian outbound visitors. Which are the new destinations TA plans on promoting in the India market? There are countless unexplored destinations within Australia for Indian travellers and our new brand campaign focuses on showcasing some of the best of Australia experiences to consumers. We would like to acquaint Indian visitors to destinations like Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island in Queensland; Western Australia that has spectacular diversity in landscapes and climates; Northern Territory famous for two iconic attractions the vast wetlands and plains of Kakadu National Park, and the sandstone rock formation called Uluru, among others. Few Indians would perhaps know that parts of Australia receive snow during the Australian winter and snowfield regions like Mt Buller which is three hours away from Melbourne is a perfect getaway to indulge in snow activities. We also recommend visitors to undertake self-drive holidays in Australia which are a great way of touring the country. There is much to be explored beyond the cities of Australia including experiences along the Grand Pacific Drive and Port Stephens known for its dolphins near Sydney. From Melbourne one can explore the beauty of the Great Ocean Road famed for its Twelve Apostles, Phillip Island famous for its penguins. Kangaroo Island near Adelaide is renowned for its untouched natural beauty and diverse wildlife. An Indian driving license issued in English is valid in Australia making it a convenient travel option for Indian visitors to Australia.

TA has associated with the Luxperience event in Sydney in September this year to boost awareness of the country's highend travel offerings. What are the high-end travel products that would appeal to HNIs from India? Australia is the world’s most stunning backdrop for a luxurious getaway. Barefoot luxury is a new trend that has become synonymous with a more ‘natural’ holiday. The amount of sun, sand and open space in Australia is a luxury of the rarest kind. Australia has everything from five-star resort retreats and hotels, to barefoot paradises – pure and simple, but exclusive by virtue of their remoteness, their special location or the small number of guests at any one time. One of the products we have recently introduced in India and that has been quite well received are the Luxury Lodges of Australia – a collection of accommodation ranging from wilderness lodges to vineyard retreats and dining destinations; island hideaways to luxurious outback camps. Cricket has a strong fan following in India, a similarity India shares with Australia. What is TA's marketing plan to promote sports tourism? Holidays in Australia are about ‘switching on’ and apart from big sports events; there are lots of activities that travellers can themselves indulge in while in Australia. Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and areas around the Great Barrier Reef are well known for the adventure sporting activities they offer. While surfing is a popular sport, few know that you can also ski in the Snowy Mountains during the winter. Snorkeling and scuba diving are world-class around the Great Barrier Reef, while there are several scenic hiking and biking options as well. We would also like Indian visitors to experience international sports events like cricket – a sport that is enjoyed equally by both countries. Sports activities are also a big draw for business events programmes as incentives to top performers to attend world class sports competitions. We recently had a group of corporate decision makers attend a tennis match at the Australian Open, an experience that corporates can use as incentive. April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

Rhone-Alps tourism turns focus to India KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai

fter receiving about 25,000 Indian travellers to Rhone-Alps last year, its tourism board is looking at aggressively targeting the FIT and MICE segments from the Indian market. To increase the number of tourists in the following years, the board is going to highlight destinations such as Lyon, Chamonix-Mount Blanc, Lake Annecy and Aravis mountains, Evian, Cotes du Rhone and Beaujolais region. This information was divulged by Barbara

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Breheret, representative for India, Rhone-Alps Tourism, during the workshop jointly organised with Emirates Airline for travel agents in Mumbai on the occasion of new flight services launched to Lyon. Lyon is France’s second-largest city and also popular as a wine region in Europe. “The objective of organising the workshop was to create greater understanding about the selling aspects of Lyon and its offerings. We have a lot to offer since Paris is close to Lyon-honeymoon, heritage, culture, adventure, leisure, food and

wine. With 70 per cent of our clientele being from Mumbai and Delhi, we are now looking at targeting other tier I and tier II cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ludhiana. Since we want to sell niche products we are not targeting much of group travellers,” she added. Apart from having their presence during roadshows organised by Atout France, the RhoneAlps tourism is also studying options of organising more workshops in the Indian market. Emirates Airline operates 185 weekly

flights to 10 Indian destinations. The airline additionally operates 33 weekly flights from France. Commenting on the workshop Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, vice president -India & Nepal, Emirates Airline said, “This workshop highlights the airline's commitment towards Lyon. This new initiative will benefit Lyon’s tourism sector by bringing more visitors from India. Emirates Airline is working firmly to promote Lyon across our network and continuing our support of Rhone-Alps tourism by partnering with them.”

Qatar Tourism Authority partners with Qatar Airways for international food festival ETW STAFF - Mumbai

atar Tourism Authority (QTA) partnered with Qatar Airways to launch the fourth edition of the annual food festival in Doha. Renamed as Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) the four-day event took place at the Museum of Islamic Art Park from March 28-31, 2013. This year, QIFF had two main themes: healthy food and a healthy

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lifestyle, as well as focused on the Qatari UK Year of Culture by highlighting traditional dishes from both the UK and Qatar. HE Eng Issa AlMohannadi, chairman, QTA, said, “We at QTA, are honoured with the partnership with Qatar Airways, as we consider Qatar Airways as a key partner in promoting Qatar as an upscale touristic destination. This year the festival showcased excellent

quality food from some of the world’s best hotel and restaurant brands that have established outlets in Qatar, confirming its growing reputation as an international gourmet capital, that appeals to tourists from anywhere in the world.” Dishes at the Healthy Food Zone included raw foods, salads, vegetables, fruits, steamed cooked seafood and meats accompanied by fresh juices and teas – all of which

support the key message of the food festival – eat healthy food, adopt a healthy lifestyle and stay fit. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways said, “Qatar Airways was pleased to be partner with Qatar Tourism Authority on what has become a great annual family event here in Doha. We were extremely excited by the initiatives that we would be featuring in this years’ festival.”

IndiGo launches six flights connecting Mumbai to Kolkata, Nagpur and Jaipur ETW STAFF - Mumbai

ndiGo has launched six flights on its domestic network. The airline will now operate its fifth daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Kolkata, third daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Nagpur and third daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Jaipur. The new flights resonates the airline’s expansion plan, and the month-on-month growth IndiGo has seen in the domestic skies. These new services will further consolidate IndiGo’s position as the fastest growing airline in India, with its 405 flights connecting 33 destinations across the nation. Speaking on the launch of new flights, Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo said, “We are delighted to enhance our

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services out of Mumbai with the launch of these new flights and we are confident that these additional services will prove immensely popular with our customers. With the increased flow of tourist and business traffic to and

These new services will further consolidate IndiGo’s position in India, with its 405 flights connecting 33 destinations www.expresstravelworld.com

from Mumbai, along with the growing demand for connectivity with metros and tier II cities, we are pleased to provide direct and daily connections and additional frequencies to meet the requirement of our customers.” On the international sector, IndiGo has launched first daily and direct flights between Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai, second daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Dubai and new daily and direct flight between Chennai and Singapore. Consolidating its leadersip on the domestic front, IndiGo also launched its fifth daily and direct flight between Delhi and Chennai and second daily and direct flight between Delhi and Kochi. Additionally, 6E will operate its fourth daily and direct flight between Mumbai

and Chennai and fourth daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Kolkata, fifth daily and direct flight between Delhi and Chennai and second daily and direct flight between Delhi and Kochi, fourth daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Chennai and fourth daily and direct flight between Mumbai and Kolkata. Earlier this year, IndiGo also launched fourth daily and direct flight between Bengaluru and Kolkata, a new daily and direct flight between Bengaluru and Goa, daily direct flights between Bengaluru and Guwahati, sixth daily direct flight between Bengaluru and Hyderabad, seventh daily direct flight between Mumbai and Bengaluru and a new daily flight between Kolkata and Goa via Bengaluru. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|R|K|E|T AVIATION

'Virgin Atlantic’s vision is to be a leading airline on sustainability' Virgin Atlantic won the 2013 Sustainable Biofuels Award for Sustainable Aviation sector at World Biofuels Markets this year. Stephen King, general manager, Virgin Atlantic- India explains how the airline is finding innovative solutions to meet its environmental challenges. By Sudipta Dev Please give a brief backgrounder of your biofuel project and your success in driving the initiative. When do you plan to introduce the same in commercial flights? In October 2011 we were delighted to announce a world-first, low-carbon aviation fuel, to be delivered in partnership with exciting new fuels company, LanzaTech. Richard Branson described the process of converting steel waste gases to produce a fuel with roughly half the total lifecycle carbon content of kerosene, as 'one of the most exciting developments of our lifetime and a major breakthrough in the war on carbon'. The new fuel will be sustainable environmentally (it has lower lifecycle carbon emissions and won’t cause deforestation), socially (it won’t compete with staple food crops) and economically (crucially it will be available in viable quantities and at a comparable price to conventional jet fuel). We’re working hard to see the technology through to commercial use in our aircraft. We hope to have a demo flight using the new fuel this year, working with partners on the technical fuel approval (ASTM)

Stephen King process, as well as collaborating with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) on sustainability certification. We plan to uplift fuel in commercial quantities by 2014. What is the significance of sustainability in the vision philosophy of your airline? We’re known as a company that cares about what we do and how we do it. Sustainability helps us direct that business ethos when making decisions and finding creative solutions to

our environmental challenges while looking after our customers, staff and communities and operating a successful business. We’re known for our innovation, and our adventurous spirit means we’re not afraid to push boundaries in following our sustainability vision. We know that sustainability can sometimes offer us a genuine triple win – for example, achieving fuel, energy and carbon reductions, and reducing our use of materials, can save us money, but it also makes sound business sense and is simply the right thing to do. Virgin Atlantic’s vision is to be a leading airline on sustainability, driving solutions for the whole industry, and its work on sustainable fuels, part of our 'Change is in the Air' sustainability programme, is certainly pushing boundaries. We are delighted to have won the 2013 Sustainable Biofuels Award in the Sustainable Aviation sector. The award win follows our groundbreaking work towards the development of a world-first low carbon aviation fuel that is set to achieve 50-60 per cent carbon reductions compared to the standard fossil fuel alternative.

Any new developments as far as the India market is concerned? We are launching domestic within the UK to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen from April 2013 onwards. 'Little Red' is the name of the new operation. The 26 domestic flights a day will strengthen connectivity to our existing long haul network flights. The new schedule has been tailor-made to suit Indian passengers travelling from Delhi and Mumbai as they can now connect seamlessly to our UK destinations on their preferred airline. What about connectivity to North America? We recently announced a strategic alliance with Delta Airlines that will create an expanded transAtlantic network and enhance competition between the UK and North America, offering greater benefits for customers travelling on those routes. The joint venture announced with Delta and the new domestic Little Red services are positive steps that will increase the current offering available to our Indian customers.

SIA offers seamless connectivity to Queensland SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

ourism & Events Queensland and Singapore Airlines recently launched 'Go Beyond with Singapore Airlines' summer campaign to reiterate the airline's position as the best connectivity to Queensland. Singapore Airlines' partnership with Virgin Atlantic, with Brisbane as the hub, provides seamless connection for Indian travellers to explore the many attractions of Queensland, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef, Hamilton

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Island to the Gold Coast. Singapore Airlines and Silk Air fly from 11 cities in India. The tie-up between Singapore Airlines with Virgin Australia in fact makes it now easier for Indian travellers to reach any of 30 destinations in Australia on a single ticket. GM Toh, general manager – India, Singapore Airlines said, “The best way to get from India to Queensland is by Singapore Airlines. We have 98 services per week from different cities in India with another starting in May. We're adding the fourth

daily flight from Singapore to Melbourne.” He asserted that his airlines' partnership with Virgin Atlantic is an important development for the India market with Brisbane as the gateway city. Singapore Airline is offering a special all-inclusive return fare from India to kick start the campaign. Ryna Sequeria, marketing manager – India Tourism & Events Queensland said that Indian travellers now have easy access to destinations like Hamilton Island and Cairns. Thirty thousand Indians had visited

Queensland in 2012, which is the largest increase seen in recent years. “People love travelling to Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef – some experiences are unique to Queensland,” she asserted. Introducing the campaign, former Australian cricketer and Queenslander, Matthew Haydon, mentioned Indian travellers can now 'go beyond' the major cities to explore the other great locations in Queensland. He also spoke about his travel and culinary experiences in India.

Ethiopian Airlines to commence new flights to Ndola ETW STAFF - Mumbai

thiopian Airlines will commence thrice weekly flight to Ndola, Zambia effective March 31, 2013. Ndola, the third largest city in Zambia, is the industrial and commercial centre in the cop-

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per belt province of the country. Ndola will be Ethiopian 45th African and the 72nd international destination. It will also be its second destination in Zambia next to Lusaka. “We are proud to add Ndola to Ethiopian Airlines wide route network. It is a www.expresstravelworld.com

continuation of our efforts to achieve the goal of connecting Africa to the world, by adding multiple points in Africa and serving the air connectivity needs of the continent,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines.

With the new service, passengers to and from Ndola will find convenient and hassle free connection to destinations in Ethiopian Airlines wide route network such as Mumbai, Dubai, London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cairo and Peking. April 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T HOTEL

Banyan Tree doubles numbers from India SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai

anyan Tree Hotels and Resorts has seen doubled numbers from India market and grown over 60 per cent and Angsana properties have witnessed a four-fold increase in its revenue share for the period between 2011 and 2012. Audrey Chung, senior assistant VP, global marketing network, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts added, “We started our own regional office for India in 2012.” Chung informed that with the opening of the Laguna Phuket, there is a good potential from the Indian market especially for weddings. “We see good amount of Indian business

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going to our resorts in Bintan and Bali. There is also an increase in business to the hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. “It is a different experience in combination with Dubai,” she further added. While small incentive groups prefer going to Maldives which is a popular destination. There has been a lot of queries and interest for the hotel chains Chinese properties especially Shanghai and Tianjin. Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts along with Angsana Hotels and Resorts recently conducted their roadshow in India. Senior representatives from eight of Banyan Tree Group properties including flagship property Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Samui, Thailand, Banyan

Tree Bintan, Angsana Bintan and Banyan Tree Ungasan in Bali, Indonesia, Banyan Tree Macau, Banyan Tree

Vabbinfaru, Banyan Tree Madivaru, Angsana Ihuru and Angsana Velavaru in the Maldives, Angsana Balaclava

Mauritius and the upcoming Banyan Tree property in Kerala participated in the event.

Bollywood and weddings two new focus areas at Starwood Expo SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

tarwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific recently organised a five-city road show, Starwood India Expo 2013. Besides Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru the seventh edition of Starwood Expo included two more additions this year Chennai and Kolkata. “We had a great turnout in Chennai and that has encouraged us to go there next year also. Kolkata has shown us some good results without doing much activity. With a lot of interest coming from Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau for Kolkata because of direct flights we thought of doing a B2B event there. The other cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru have always been successful,” said Dhananjay S Saliankar, regional director – Starwood Sales Organisation,

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South Asia. Forty-six hotels participated in the expo this year from 18 countries. “With European market reaching a saturation, India is a big market for them. There is short lead time to always get more business,” said Saliankar. Canada is a new entrant this year while North America came for the second time. “They really saw some great results, we grew the market over 100 per cent in the last two years with B2B partners. We signed up tours with Kuoni, Vacation Exotica and other large players. We are also working with smaller agencies,” stated Saliankar. The invited delegates included travel agents, tour operators, corporates and conference organisers. The two new segments targeted this year were - wedding planners and production houses. “Thailand has always been

Dhananjay S Saliankar popular for Indian weddings. We are keen to focus on markets like Mauritius, Dubai, Hong Kong. We've got the largest inventory of 3800 rooms in Sheraton Macau. We

also want to develop the Bollywood segment and have invited the production houses,” said Saliankar. Talking about a few highlights he pointed out that luxury brand W in Barcelona has taken close to over 20 Indian groups, mostly MICE segment. “This has given us an advantage in the B2B market though we do not have a W here, to create a strong awareness and popularity of the brand,” said Saliankar. Similarly, St Regis Bangkok has hosted a number of Indian weddings. Saliankar also spoke about the StarNet booking engine for Starwood hotels through which travel and retail agents, including those in secondary cities can book on the best available rates and get 15 per cent off the bar. Jenny Seraphine, complex sales manager, Attachee Commerciale, Le Meridien

Fisherman's Cove, Seychelles said that her property had a lot of exposure in India, “The Indian market is growing year by year, as an increasing number of Indians are visiting Seychelles. We get many leisure groups, though the MICE segment is also growing. There is good flight connectivity via Doha and Dubai. I hope to get more clients following the expo this year.” Tejal Mehta Seebhujun, sales manager-India, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Mauritius said, “We have three properties and have always been very focused on India.” The global personalisation programmes ensures that there are Indian guest relations executives to interact with the guests, Indian cuisine and cultural programmes. The housekeeping, waiters and kitchen staff are all trained for the Indian market.

Fairmont Raffles Makkah looks at Indian Hajj Umrah business SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

n an aim to cater to more Hajj and Umrah business from India Fairmont Raffles Makkah is looking to make its presence felt in India. “In 2012, we saw as many as 1000 room nights which came from India alone. This allows us to believe that there is a huge market in India that needs to be tapped,” said Khaled Yamak, group director of communication and business

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development, Fairmont Raffles Hotel Makkah. He then adds that they have seen positive indications from the Indian market when it comes to business into Saudi Arabia. India also has the third largest Islamic population in the world and with the improving economy of the country the disposable income has also increased the number of people travelling. “Since visas to the Saudi Arabia are available only through recognised

tour operators and the percentage of visas allotted to each nation is also limited, it is important for us to reach out to this community and create awareness about our hotels,” added Yamak. As to luxury hotel in a holy city he said that the aim has always been to offer luxury with humility. “When we first opened in the city, hotels were offering fairly mediocre services and were not pushing themselves. We offered our guests a choice with a variety of facilities. We were

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the first to open a spa in Makkah. While everybody asked why a spa, we asked back why not? We also have the first business centre in the city as well as special rooms for elderly travellers, we have trained nurses managing it,” he added. Located in Clock Tower complex are three Fairmont Raffles hotels – Swissotel Makkah, Raffles Makkah Palace and Makkah Clock Royal Tower – which caters to 40 per cent of the business in Makkah. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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Management

INSIGHT INTO THE TRAVEL MARKET

COVER STORY

Tourism on the track One of the living legacies of the colonial rule in India is the railways. Tourism has benefitted immensely from this lifeline that connects the country. It is time to tap into this power and use it to drive tourism. By Sayoni Bhaduri

t is said that the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have garnered the momentum that it did if it hadn’t been for the railways. The world has come a long way since James Watt invented the first steam engine in 1769. The competition has stiffened with the advent of motorways and cars, air transport and even shipping. But the railways have remained resilient and indomitable through it all. And in India it is almost the lifeline on which the country survives. Apart from how it impacts India’s economy, Indian Railways has a major role to play in the travel and tourism space. Trains in India are by far the most affordable mode of transport. Key destinations and tourist circuits can be accessed only by train, rendering railways a necessity for most inbound as well as domestic travellers. It is because of Indian Railways accessing destinations like Khajuraho, Hampi, interiors of Uttar Pradesh even north east is possible, courtesy its impressive network-reach and frequency. Recently Pir Panjal railway tunnel, the longest tunnel of India and second largest in Asia on Banihal-

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Qazigund section of Jammu & Kashmir Railway line has been declared ready. Trial runs of train operations are on which will be opened shortly for regular train operations in about two months time. With the operation of this section Kashmir valley will be linked with the Jammu region by train. “The importance of railways in the country’s tourism is evident from the fact that over 7800 trains carry about 11 million passengers to their destinations every day. The growth of railways has been continuous and sustained making it indispensable to tourism in India,” says Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel Group and president IATO. “Overnight journeys help people reach from one place to another while saving on a night’s accommodation and journeys of less than four hours are better accomplished by train than through flights,” adds Prem Subramaniam, partner, Prem Subramaniam Associates. It needs no reiteration as to how important railways are to India, her people and her economy, but there is always a question as to whether there is scope for more. And indeed there is. Subramaniam www.expresstravelworld.com

explains this succinctly, while flights on trunk routes have increased in frequency, the corresponding increase in frequency of trains has not happened. Ticket bookings have become difficult; three months also do not seem enough. “Current road blocks such as infrastructural development coupled with challenges due to hygiene and sanitation, quality of food and poor service delivery are the key barriers to growth. Additionally, safety and security is a significant concern highlighted by inbound customers,” says Surinder Singh Sodhi, senior vice president and head, leisure travel – inbound, Thomas Cook (India). Indian Railways has been progressive in many ways; Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) still has room for improvement with enhancements in seat or berth selection and being able to book return or multiple sector journeys more seamlessly. Reservations can easily assimilate reservation of meals with better choices; toilets too need better maintenance with more frequent cleaning services based on usage; chartering trains or sections of carriages

can be made easier. While there have been many plans to use railway land for offering budget accommodation the progress leaves much to be desired for; only success here has been the Rail Yatri Niwas at the New Delhi railway station which was handed over to Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) which promotes Ginger hotel. Effective management and strict implementation of policies can work wonders to the existing status of Indian Railways as a tourism product.

Meaningful measures Unfortunately there has been an excessive focus on luxury trains and not enough is done to improve services with a focus on the domestic market. While there are initiatives to change the current course of action, development is a continuous process that demands both intent and support. Steps are being taken, the 2013-14 railway budget has given out clear mandates in the direction of improvement of services of the railways. For safety related works allocations have been made by about 13 per cent as compared to last year. Vinay Mittal, chairman, Railway April 2013


M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T Board in a recent conference said that Indian Railways has formulated an ambitious 12th Five Year Plan for its expansion and growth. He said that the plan size would be to the tune of ` 5.19 lakh crore. The funding pattern would be: Government budgetary support ` 1.9 lakh crore, internal resource generation - ` 1.05 lakh crore, market borrowings - v 1.2 lakh crore and PPP ` one lakh crore. He said that the target is to create fund balance of ` 30,000 crore in the terminal year of the 12th Plan. Indian Railways generated a revenue of ` 111984.89 crore from April 2012 to February 2013 registering an increase of 20.40 per cent. The total passenger revenue was ` 28915.09 crore registering an increase of 11.82 per cent. The total approximate numbers of passengers booked were 7803.42 million compared to 7586.63 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 2.86 per cent. Indian Railways monitor the punctuality of trains using Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS) at all the three levels viz Divisional level, Zonal Head Quarters level and Railway Board level. In an effort to reach out to women travellers and senior citizens a combined quota of two lower berths per coach has been earmarked in Sleeper, AC-3 tier and AC-2 tier classes. A reservation quota of two sleeper class berths has been earmarked in all trains running on non-suburban sections for differently abled persons on a journey on handicapped concessional ticket. Indian Railways has also attached specially designed coaches known as SLRD coaches with wider entrance doors to allow a wheel chair to enter, wider aisles and modified toilet with four berths, in almost all Mail/Express trains except

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April 2013

Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi Express Trains and Duronto Express Trains. Comprehensive instructions already exist for accessibility for physically challenged passengers at railway stations. Short term facilities like standard ramp for barrier free entry, earmarking at least two parking lots, non-slippery walk-way from parking lot to building, signages of appropriate visibility, at least one drinking water tap suitable for use by differently abled persons, at least one toilet on the ground floor and ‘May I help you’ Booth, have been planned at all ‘AI’, ‘A’ and ‘B’ category stations (581 stations). These facilities have already been provided at 562 stations. In addition, escalators and lifts been have been provided at 44 stations. Further, 354 escalators are planned for ongoing sanctioned works. New Delhi railway station is the first to have an executive lounge. Setting up of more such lounges at Bilaspur, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Nagpur, Agra, Jaipur and Bengaluru was announced in the railway budget this year. Managed and run by IRCTC these lounges will have facilities such as WI-FI, buffet services, wash and change, concierge services for predeparture and post-arrival assistance to passengers as per demand. As Goyal puts it, “Railways are indeed the backbone of tourism in India. In terms of cost of travel, Indian Railways stay way ahead of other means of transport. Further, luxury trains like Palace-onWheels, Deccan Odyssey, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Maharajas’ Express and The Golden Chariot have contributed to niche tourism in India. Also with its fleet of express and superfast trains,

the Railways have added speed and efficiency to lure the tourist.” Indian Railways with different state tourism boards have taken on the mantle of running luxury trains across India and that too successfully. To take the lead was the Palace on Wheels - the coaches of the train belonged to the rulers of princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India. After independence, these coaches were parked and remained so till in 1981-82. Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) and Indian Railways launched Palace on Wheels. State government and the Railways brought infrastructural changes in the coaches while maintaining the aesthetics of the interiors. These coaches were later replaced by air-conditioned broad gauge new train. Using this as a prototype Maharashtra and Karnataka also have their versions, Deccan Odyssey and The Golden Chariot, respectively. The popularity and advance booking on the Palace on Wheels was such that RTDC and Indian Railways had to introduce

Subhash Goyal

Prem Subramaniam

Focus tourism

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Royal Rajasthan on Wheels. Most of Indian luxury trains are listed in the most popular luxury trains lists, this is just a great example of what forethought and future planning can achieve for Indian tourism. These trains now also offer business requirements like board rooms and conferencing systems. The aim now for these trains should be to reach out to different target audiences and not just the baby boomers. There were talks with RailEurope and IRCTC to bring these trains under RailEurope’s network to reach out to wider audiences. Florence Pasquier, commercial director, Rail Europe says that there is a huge demand for Indian luxury trains in the global travel and tourism market, and Rail Europe would be very keen to have them on their distribution list. The demand comes from countries like Japan, Australia, Korea and South American nations. Prime minister, Manmohan Singh at the foundation laying of the Kochi metro line informed that the government will support preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPR) for Metro rail in all 19 cities with a population of over two million. He added that DPRs had already been prepared for 12 cities and Metro rail projects were being implemented in seven cities covering a total network of length 476 km at a cost of over ` 1.15 lakh crore. Most of India’s metropolitan are home to rich culture and history, a fast and efficient mode of transport can ease accessibility for tourists. Case in point being Kolkata and Delhi. The Delhi Metro carries about 22 lakh people daily. Subramaniam adds, “Delhi Metro services have certainly encouraged alternative tourism experiences for locals

themselves. People from South Delhi have begun to frequent Chandni Chowk at night and of course they would take visitors and guests too. The use of public transport is key to growth with sustainability and should be encouraged. This can be done by better inter modal transport terminuses, link services to places of tourist interest from stations, information kiosks and maps at stations and an increased investment in mobile applications to allow greater independent travel.” To connect better with the tourists IRCTC started the travel booking website railtourismindia.com. The website offers tour packages, hotel and car booking, train tickets. Last year they also started flight bookings as well; IRCTC has developed in house air ticketing module for booking tickets for domestic and international airlines through website irctc.co.in and railtourismindia.com. Some of the special train booking the website offers include – Bharat Darshan, Kalka-Shimla Special Train, Mahaparinirvan Express, Steam Express and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. These trains and tours have been designed so as to allow easy access to various tourist destinations together with sight seeing and accommodation making them an all inclusive tour. Bharat Darshan for instance is designed for the budget traveller costing ` 500 per day per passenger includes, rail travel, road transfers, meals, accommodation and sight seeing. Similarly, Mahaparinirvan Express, which has resulted in opening up India’s Buddhist sights of BodhGaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Lumbini, Sravasti and Agra, is also an all inclusive package. IRCTC in association with the Odisha EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T government will be starting an Odisha Buddhist circuit train. Sri Lankan tourists also feature in IRCTC's plans with a 22 day Buddhist special train being planned for them, which they can board from Chennai after reaching the city by air from Colombo.

Global connections This circuit has been identified as a priority circuit, which is evident from the fact that India had signed a MoU on tourism with ASEAN in early 2012, with a work plan for the development of ASEAN-India cooperation in Buddhist pilgrimage tourism. Apart from Buddhism, the potential to draw in tourists from neighboring nations if there is a railway connect, increases manifold. In 2012, Indian Railways proposed to connect Agartala in Tripura with Akhaura in Bangladesh. To be named Maitree Express, completion of this rail link means improvement in bilateral ties as well as a boost in establishing connectivity with inaccessible areas in northeast. Earlier this year an intergovernmental railway meeting between India and Bangladesh was held to see how this link can be expedited. In 2011, two projects were

taken up to provide connectivity to Nepal -- JogbaniBiratnagar new line and Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas line. The biggest success perhaps is the running of the Samjhauta Express running via Attari – Wagah border in Punjab and Thar Express running via Munabao – Khokrapar border in Rajasthan, between India and Pakistan. In 2007, India signed the inter-governmental agreement to connect 28 nations via the trans-Asian railway (TAR). The TAR rail link will connect Thailand and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan with Turkey through Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran with Sri Lanka; a total distance of 22,600 km. According to the inter-governmental agreement the route will enter India from Tamu in Myanmar and Jiribam in Manipur. The original aim of TAR was to improve trade relations between the landlocked nations, but the impact on tourism is also undeniable. India will have the potential to lure her neighbours with whom she shares a cultural affinity. But the harsh reality is that these plans will take a

long time to become operational. There is a lot to learn from China, according to Robert Broadfoot, MD, Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, China has been working on restructuring the entire transportation scenario, which in the end will impact entire Asia. The nation is aggressively developing roadways and railways, building transcontinental links. China spends US$ 105 billion on railway investment each year com-

'Almost 20 million people travel on our trains every day' Ashwani Lohani, CME - Northern Railways speaks about how railways is an intrinsic part of Indian tourism Can you please throw light on how Indian Railways has played a crucial role in promoting tourism in the country? Tourism means travel and in India, travel means Indian Railways. Railways therefore has a vital role in development of tourism in a country as large as ours and having one of the most dense railway networks in the world. Railways efforts in running special and luxury tourist trains have attained international recognition. Its efforts in revival of steam heritage tourism and activating tourism on the five hill railways have made a major contribution to the growth of tourism in India.

pared to India's US$ 9.1 billion. And China aims to double its current capacity of railway network by 2015 to 16,000 km. CNR Corporation and China CSR have geared up to expand their capacity as well allowing them to take on railway network building projects in any other country. “India and China have enough domestic tourism and we need not worry too much about improvement of rail services in China. I think if we focused on our domestic tourism, PIOs, NRIs and specific segments of visitors we can have increased revenues and longer staying visitors as well repeat traffic,” counters Subramaniam.

Railways always had plans designed for the future yet it always faces brickbats, what is the missing link and how can the situation be improved? We have to appreciate the volumes: almost 20 million people travel on our trains every day. We also need to appreciate that railways is not a typical commercial organisation, it has social obligations and therefore has to keep its prices low. Keeping all this in perspective, railways is indeed doing a great job. Yet improvements in all these service areas are inevitable and shall continue to happen despite the pressure of volumes. ●

How can the private sector help in promotion of railways as a medium of tourism? As I said railways is the predominant means of travel in the country. Besides with its luxury trains, museums, steam heritage trains and Rewari steam shed and Hill railways, railways is also in many ways a tourist destination in itself. While for selling tickets we don't need promotion, these niche products can be promoted by the private sector. The tourism directorate in railway board is the nodal agency for liaison with the private sector for promotion of rail tourism. ●

Indian Railways should look at privatisation. Your thoughts. Railways is a government department. Besides the railways is too huge and too complex for the private sector to manage. The experience of some western countries who privatised their railways and then had to retract is a case in point. While some services can and should be privatised, there is no case for privatisation of its core activities. ●

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Private sector boost Indian Railways is a matter of pride for most Indians, so how can the private sector help? While successes have been achieved in the bidding out of food courts, kiosks, catering services this is still too little in relation to the opportunities. “Private sector has come forth by extending its services like they have joined hands with the Indian railways to run Deccan Odyssey (West India), Golden Chariot (South India) and many other tourist trains thus revamping the overall travel experience. Private tour operators are also promoting rail packages in global markets thereby increasing the footfall and presence of the railways,” says Goyal. Accommodation is another area where association with the private sector will be beneficial. “Joint partnerships with key tour operators for visibility and awareness- via joint marketing promotions would be invaluable to ensuring targeting consumers. Key USPs, enticing images, new circuits need to be highlighted. Luxury oppor-

tunities should be highlighted to capture India’s growing HNI-UHNI segments,” adds Sodhi. While the private sector needs motivation to take up the cause of railways, it is also a question as to when will the railways think of themselves as having the potential to be a profitable organisation. While they have recorded profits for last year it has to be a continuous effort. With the Air India episode behind India, the question again raised here is will privatising Indian Railways work? As Subramaniam elucidates there are many layers in the context. Some elements such as the ownership and management of tracks and stations need to remain vested with the government. But at the same time many services could be taken up by private enterprise using the current employees of Indian railways and associated unions. “Luggage handling, pre-booking bulk luggage, storage, waiting room facilities could be looked at immediate opportunities. Using railway land for accommodation, retail shops, food courts, link transport services would also appear to be relatively easy,” he says. Critical services like medical trains can be run in conjunction with hospitals and insurance companies. Providing temporary accommodation at sites where people gather in large numbers during special events, running of package tours could easily be done better with a partnership model. Plans are aplenty, execution requires long term commitment and a futurevision, a robust mechanism of laying down processes, checks and balances, and assigning responsibilities and accountability. April 2013


M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T SPOTLIGHT

The village way Following the success of community based tourism projects - guest houses, mountain camp site and houseboat owned and managed by villagers in India, Village Ways is now looking at expanding its vision to Ethiopia and Kenya. By Sudipta Dev he real India lives in its villages and rural tourism is slowly emerging as a niche, albeit nascent, segment. An integral part of any village based tourism initiative is the engagement of the local villagers and the opportunity it can provide to enhance their income. Villages Ways that is involved in several successful community tourism projects in India, is now looking at involving villages in Ethiopia and Kenya in similar initiatives. Village Ways currently has 11 guest houses in Uttarakhand (six in Binsar and five in Saryu and Pindar Valley) along with a campsite near Nanda Devi mountain, a guest house in Rajasthan's Thar desert, a spice house in Karnataka and the recent project of a houseboat in Kerala. All these accommodation projects are owned and managed by the local villagers. The communities are partners/share holders in Village Ways. “Our effort is to tie up with either like-minded organisations or help in refurbish-

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ment or general standard of whatever accommodation are available,” says Himanshu Pande, director development, Village Ways. It had all started when Pande who was running his family hotel Mountain Resort, in Khali Estate, Almora, Uttarakhand realised that people from nearby villages were migrating continuously due to lack of employment opportunity. “Khali Estate is inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Binsar was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1990 and there were a few restrictions posed on the local communities. This had a direct impact on the people who started migrating from the sanctuary. The idea of Village Ways is to benefit the villagers from tourism activities,” states Pande. A private limited company was formed, Village Ways raised money and started working in five villages of Binsar. “We have set up little guest houses in the villages, each has three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, a separate place for the guides in the same house to stay. These guest houses are basically for walking holidays. Tourists come to my hotel in Khali Estate and then move onwards for one/two/three nights stay in different villages depending on the duration of their holiday,” mentions Pande. There are guides who walk with guests from one village to another. These villages are far from the roads and cars cannot reach these destinations. Each village has porters to carry the luggage of tourists.

Growth trail Talking about the growth of the initiative Pande says, “We had started this initiative commercially in 2006

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but we were working on it from 2002. After the success in Binsar villages we have turned to five more nearby villages in Uttarakhand. We are working in partnership with a government organisation called Upasak which is involved in livelihood of communities. This is in Pindar Valley - there are five homes in villages and a campsite located near the big mountains of Nanda Devi.” After Uttarakhand, Villages Ways expanded to other places - a little guest house in Hacra village in Rajasthan's Thar desert. Again owned by the community it is around two hours drive from Jodhpur. The next project was in south India not far from Hubli in Karnataka – the Hulgol Spice House at a place called Sirsi. Every guest house funded by Village Ways is owned by the village. Forty per cent of the construction cost for the guest house is given as grant by Village Ways, and 60 per cent as interest free loan to the village. Each guest house is managed by the village committee, which has a president, a secretary, and other people. “We've negotiated the rates with them. For example in Binsar there is a bigger committee comprising all the five villages that has fixed the rates of what Village Ways will pay to the communities per guest for boarding as well as lodging. We have also trained many guides. In Binsar we have 12 guides, out of which two are lady guides who have been trained in flora, fauna, english language, first aid, etc,” informs Pande. Guests cannot give

any direct tips or gifts to the villagers. Each village has a Village Development Fund where tourists can make the contribution so that it can benefit all. Each village takes the decision on how to use the fund. The criteria of selecting a village include factors like if the community needs an alternate source of livelihood, besides the important fact if the destination has the potential to be marketed as a holiday product. UK has been the key market. “While on one hand a lot of community mobilisation effort is done, on the other hand the marketing team has to work on selling these projects. Whatever revenues Village Ways is making we reinvest in other projects,” says Manisha Pande, director, Village Ways. She points out that while the concept is what an NGO would do but there is also a marketing side to it to keep projects sustainable in the long term. “It is a social enterprise that takes the initiative to develop the project and also takes initiative to market it,” explains Manisha Pande. There have been few other positive impacts too. For instance, in Binsar the relationship between Forest Department and villagers have improved with the opening of the guest houses. There is general patrolling of the forests, forest fires have reduced and importantly, wildlife has also increased.

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M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T EVENT ROUNDUP

Time for strategic repositioning At the recently held Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) annual convention 2013, the message given out by most speakers was that of strategic repositioning and adapting to change. Though the pressing issues of agents namely commissions issue and tax grievances received a faint mention, the focus was on staying motivated during crisis time. By Reema Lokesh ed their hospitality to the delegates. Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, minister for tourism, South Africa, spoke about the commonalities between the two countries and was positive that the relationship in the field of tourism between the two countries will only strengthen with time. Hanneli Slabber, South African Tourism's country manager for India, was also positive about the future of tourism vis-a-vis the countries and she expects an increase in tourism inflow resulting from the convention. South African Tourism has declared India as its core market and has rolled out a new campaign, which will be followed by another one in the near future. From cricket to Gandhi, the leaders felt the two countries have very strong ties that can only get stronger. The importance of emerging countries, the BRICS union and other trade connect also received interesting mentions during the convention.

Hosts hopeful

he TAFI convention was held in Durban at a strategic time, as it was held close to the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban. South African Tourism and especially the region of KwaZulu-Natal did their best for the delegates, which were firmly endorsed by Zakir Ahmed, president TAFI; Praveen Chugh, VP, TAFI, the convention chairperson, Aditi Bende and the entire managing committee of TAFI. The committee spoke in

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one voice and felt that the convention brought the two countries closer in terms of tourism and there will surely be an increase in tourism inflow into the region. Working in a transparent way is what the president of TAFI reiterated during his opening speech. However as hosts, South African Tourism and the Kwa-Zulu-Natal province offered a perfect platform as they showcased their product effectively with pre and post convention tours and extend-

South African Airways (SAA), which was the official carrier partner for the convention, were probably the best beneficiaries. The team at SAA, namely Gcobani Mangcotywa, regional general manager, Asia Pacific, SAA; Manoj Papa, acting GM-commercial, SAA and Sajid Khan, country manager-India SAA, were unanimous in their opinion that the event helped them showcase the airline to the travel agents fraternity and help them clear myths and misconceptions about the airline's product and service. Explains Khan, “The agents were very pleased with our world class service and were happy to have received an opportunity to experience the same. It was a fruitful experience for us at SAA and we do have a quality product at hand which was witnessed by a strong fraternity in the trade.� The team of the province of KwaZulu-Natal lead by Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for economic development and tourism, province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were upbeat about hosting the event. Mabuyakhulu spoke strongly on relationship buildApril 2013


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ing between the two countries in the field of tourism and especially the benefits that his region will gain after this delegation of agents. He was glad he and his team could execute a well structured and seamless convention experience for the TAFI delegates and was hoping to welcome Indian tourists into region as an extension of this programme.

The keynote message The travel agent fraternity as they stand today are passing through troubled times and the only hope is to adapt to changing times with caution and prudent calculation. The message given out at the convention was to focus on motivation and taking the next step ahead. This was articulated by the convention keynote speaker, Rahul Bhatia, group managing director, InterGlobe Enterprises. His address was focused on how big issues need big interventions. He added that it is

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very crucial for people to stay motivated for the collective good and that growth has to be inclusive. He also mentioned that there is huge amount of work to be done in the field of travel and tourism and the country hasn’t even started yet- the potential is immense. He highlighted the importance of the 5 Ps in business namely, 1) Partnerships, 2) Policy, 3) People, 4) Planning and 5) Planet and felt these points play a major role in defining one’s business direction.

Session spread There were in total of five business sessions spread across two days, which largely focused on keeping the agents motivated in troubled times, on changing mindsets and strategies. The real time issue of commissions, taxes the importance of agent-airline relationship did receive only a soft mention in one of the sessions. The sessions were

spread as follows, 1) Winning the battle for relevance, 2) Golden horizon, 3) The Big Five, 4) Power of Today, 5) Sahshtra Dhara. Lars Thykier, managing director of the Association of Danish Travel Agents & Tour operators, and elected chairman of WTAAA (World Travel Agents Association Alliance), highlighted the future relevance of IATA and its New Distribution Capability (NDC). He mentioned that NDC is for real and it is time the trade understands it better. Kapil Kaul, CEO-South Asia, CAPA, who was the moderator of the session `Power of Today’ felt that one needs to be well informed and it is essential to understand change. Deepak Brara, commercial director and board member, Air India felt that we need to decide as a country how much we need to import with reference to the fact that more foreign airlines are making inroads in the country. Otto de Vries, CEO, ASATA, highlighted the fact that associations also need to do some restructuring and they have to be dynamic to address the industry’s pressing needs. Gavin Smith, regional vice president-Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruises; Graham Wood, managing director, Southern Sun; Stephan F Ekbergh, founder and CEO, Travelstart; Dhananjay Saliankar, regional director, Starwood sales organisation, South Asia, who were the panelists for the session named Sahshtra Dhara, gave the audience a perspective on what should be done to stay ahead of the curve providing both tangible and intangible suggestions to be implemented and incorporated. Bill Lawler, vice president, global customers group, Amadeus Asia Pacific also shared some vital points in his session. Motivational speaker, Michael McQueen, founder the Nexgen group, in his session `Winning the Battle for EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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Relevance’ spoke about the value of innovation and how leaders become complacent and tend to lose the plot. The ones most responsive to change will survive. Brenda Eckstein, a motivational writer and speaker, highlighted the importance of networking in the business and spoke about the importance of Fun Leadership and Growth (FLAG), as she calls it. Simon, Nowroz, global VP, business development-Travelport, spoke about on the importance of probabilities vs possibilities amongst a host of other relevant business management tips. The session ‘Big Five’, had some astute speakers who spoke about the relevance and significance of BRICS and its strong growth over the years.

Agent expectations Speaking to the agents during the convention high-

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lighted few important observations. The reactions were more or else in the same tone as mentioned by Nilay Tejani, director, Trambak Travels. Tejani felt that, the one big learning that he received from the TAFI 2013 convention was that change in this industry is inevitable and there is a need to adopt and learn and progress through changes. There were some good speakers and good interaction, the venues were good and local suppliers were willing to welcome. However, the expectations were a bit more from the convention when it came to addressing the commission issue. He felt, there could be more on the commission and transaction fees which were not completely met as he feels crucial issues of the agent’s today is still that of commission and transaction fees on tickets. He was also candid in mentioning that there were many families present and as a result the seriousness of convention was lost, in future if families are to be allowed it has to be only after the convention is over. Interestingly the TAFI committee was also emphatic in their voice while addressing this issue, but one guesses the committee will have to enforce more stringent rules to overcome this problem. Anil Kalsi, managing partner, Ambe World Travels, felt that the contents of the business sessions were very informative and added value to the members. TAFI had

made efforts to get the best speakers on the most important issues concerning the industry. He felt the conventions help add value in terms of knowledge and leads to brain storming sessions on current issues that are facing the industry. Kalsi said, “The networking between travel partners and principals is integral. While the content was there, the airlines majorly stay away from conventions making networking options limited. It is sad that some of the airlines we sell are not even primary members of agents associations and choose to disregard the IATA travel agent community.” He also felt that the IATA agents are going through most difficult times. The airlines are undercutting their published CRS fares on their websites. The anomaly of fares has created an uneven playing field for the airlines distribution channels, the IATA travel agents. While the airlines are not willing to look at giving a meagre commission to sustain the IATA agent they are cutting fares on the website and promotions at all times. The ensuing weekly payment will further add to agents woes and have major cash flow problems. The inability of the agents to charge a transaction fee and not be paid commission is a livelihood problem that needs urgent redressal. I don’t understand what stops the airlines to make a fair commission apart of the fare. Service tax needs immense clarity. There is dual taxation of service tax and that needs immediate remedial measures. He summed it up, “The convention held fantastic value in terms of content and cost. The free FAM were truly a value add and the members and showcased South Africa to the agents for further business growth. Associations must all come together, and have one voice. The agency community can't wait for split voices.” April 2013


M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T IN CONVERSATION

‘It is vital to have the right tools to sell travel rather than process travel’ Travel agents need to adopt a dynamic approach to stay ahead of the curve during tough economic times, feels Simon Nowroz, global vice president, business development-Travelport. In an interview he puts into perspective the must do’s for the travel agents as a future business plan. By Reema Lokesh What according to you should the Indian agents’ fraternity do to fight the tough times? Travel agents need to adopt a dynamic approach to stay ahead of the curve during tough economic times. For example, in a mid-sized travel agency, with so much competition in the market place and pressure from small, large and online agencies, you need to stay competitive. Every dollar counts – as do every minute you dedicate to servicing your clients, processing booking, and admin tasks. It is vital that agency owners equip their business and staff with the right tools to ‘sell’ travel rather than ‘process’ travel. This applies to both retail and corporate travel agencies, big and small. A good GDS solution will allow you to do this – leveraging the tools and products already in place of exploring other investment initiatives that deliver cost savings; a good GDS will help agencies boost their bottom line. From a pure revenue-generating perspective, agencies need to focus on ways to increase hotels, car rentals and holiday packages in addition to air sales. What according to you is the way ahead for them? I am pleased to say that there is a very positive outlook in India, which is one of Travelport’s key focus regions globally. According to IHS, India’s growth slowed sharply in 2011 and 2012, but recent reforms are reviving business sentiment and restoring investor confidence. The economy in this region is expected to accelerate steadily in 2013-2016, with solid gains in consumer spending and fixed investment. GDP growth for 2013 is expected to be six per cent for 2013 and seven per cent in 2014. The growing middle class and upper middle class will increasingly prioritise travel as part of their day-toApril 2013

Simon Nowroz

day needs, providing excellent opportunity for those in travel as well as related industries. Exciting and opportunistic times ahead for the Indian travel sector. Are there any solutions that Travelport has to offer the agents? Travelport is in the business of travel by helping to connect the travel industry. In short, we connect agencies to the content of suppliers of air, hospitality, car and rail, so they have the right content, tools and solutions to service their customers better. We also provide airlines with IT solutions that help them with merchandising, generating ancillary revenue in addition to selling seats. We power business success by enabling providers and agents to sell how and what they want to, providing a superior travel-buying experience through our technology. We have many solutions to offer to travel agents to make their day-to-days more efficient, such as: ● Travelport Rooms and More, a web-based hotel booking tool that searches wholesaler and aggregator databases in addition to Travelport’s GDSs, providing an integrated platform and efficient hotel search for agents. ● Galileo RoomMaster, a hotel shopping and booking www.expresstravelworld.com

system with direct and realtime access to the internal reservations systems of over 400 hotel brands and over 87,000 properties worldwide. ● Tr a v e l p o r t S m a r t p o i n t App, a software upgrade designed to improve the travel agent’s productivity and customer service using interactive technology which combine the efficiency of command entries with clarity of graphical overviews and click-through links. One of our core strategies is supporting an open platform to foster innovation that will advance travel technology. It’s all about flexible access to content and services. We continue to work with developers through our Travelport Developer Network, and have developed the Travelport Universal API which is the first global GDS API to aggregate GDS, low cost carrier, directly connected to high speed rail and merchandising content from multiple sources. Universal API is part of a revolutionary strategy to support development efforts, operations, efficiency and customer service. These are just some examples of the solutions in our product suite to help advance the business of travel.

It is vital that agency owners equip their business and staff with the right tools to ‘sell’ travel rather than ‘process’ travel

What are your insights on innovation in the travel industry? Innovation is constantly changing how people live, behave, connect, search, and make decisions. In turn, technology continues to evolve according to the needs of the end consumer. We are lucky to be on the forefront of this change during a very exciting growth period in the Asia-Pacific. Opportunities in travel business are endless. I encourage partners from the industry – travel agencies, travel suppliers or technology developers – to get in touch with Travelport to share ideas and insight on how to advance the world of travel. What according to you is the global outlook in terms of the travel agents business profile and its future? From a GDS perspective, overall bookings in GDSs went up by two per cent globally last year despite economic downturn. The global economy is predicted to grow 2.6 per cent in 2013 and 3.5 per cent in 2014. Recovery of the global economy is proceeding at three different speeds, with emerging economies in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America leading the way. Specifically in Asia, there will be an increasing number of affluent consumers in developing countries and more trade opportunities in India, China, South Korea, and other stable emerging regions. The upper middle class is redefined as the growth of low cost carriers now allow more people to afford air travel, opening adjacent growth in related industries. It will be increasingly important for travel agents to have access to comprehensive travel content and the right technologies to become a full-service travel consultancy. Travel and tourism continues to be one of the world’s largest industries and accounts for one in 12 jobs globally. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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EVENTS ROUNDUP

Exploring MICE Providing an excellent platform for the travel trade - India and Canada, Focus Canada 2013 organised by the Canadian Tourism Commission proved to be another success story. With MICE being the new buzzword, business strategies are being honed to tap India's huge potential. By Kahini Chakraborty

t this year's 'Focus Canada 2013' event held at the Fairmont Jaipur and announcing the game plan for achieving increased number of travellers from the India market, Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small business and tourism, Canada stated that Indians are among the top ten international visitors to Canada.

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The destination received a total of 162,900 overnight travellers in 2012, an 8.7 per cent increase over the previous year, who spent nearly US$ 161 million. The Canadian government has also announced plans to open a new consulate in Bengaluru this year which will have 35 people working there. “This will give us more visibility and a chance

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to facilitate the market better,” he added. Currently having over 4,000 Indian agents who are Canada specialists (and planning to achieve a 10 per cent increase in these numbers this year), the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) has chalked out an aggressive promotional campaign with an increased budget. With an aim to promote its offerings to achieve mutual benefits between the two countries, CTC brought in about 50 tourism representatives from Canada, which included DMCs, hotels, tour operators, tourism boards and entertainment companies. And needless to say, this year's event once again provided a platform for successful business meetings and collaborations. The event also saw the presence of Michele McKenzie, president & CEO, CTC; Siobhan Chretien, regional managing director, Americas & Asia, CTC;

Stewart G Beck, Canadian High Commissioner to India; Sidney Frank, minister and immigration program manager, High Commission of Canada; Charles McKee, vice president, international, CTC and Sarah Hayward, manager, temporary resident unit, High Commission of Canada. Visa issuance and promoting MICE were the main focus elements at the event. With the destination laying major emphasis on its sustainability initiatives, Bernier informed that Canada issued more than 130,000 visas and more than 13,000 study permits to Indian citizens last year. “This represents a 58 per cent increase in visas and 530 per cent increase in student permits since 2004, which reaffirms the fact that Canada continues to be a destination of choice for Indian travellers and students,” he said. He added April 2013


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that the government has been working with the industry to capitalise on this growth, to welcome even more Indian travellers and to create jobs and growth in Canada, while strengthening the relationship with Indian visitors. The Stephen Harper government has also made sig-

nificant improvements to the visa application process. Hayward elaborated that the period for which multipleentry visas are valid has been extended from five years to 10 years, which allows visitors to enter and exit Canada for up to six months at a time over 10 years. Additionally, parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are now eligible to apply for the new Super Visa, which is valid for up to 10 years and allows parents and grandparents to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time. These measures are complemented by the fact that Indian travellers to Canada receive faster visa approvals than travellers from any other country in the world.

Varied offerings Currently having about 84 flights to Canada, Bernier was confident that due to demand in the market, there could be chances of Air Canada resuming services to India. Gaurav Mehta, sales manager- India, Air Canada mentioned that new routes were in the pipeline. “There could be certain codeshare agreements mid this year. The major chunk of the load factors has been due to immigration, students and corporates. Nevertheless there has been a 15-16 per cent increase in the leisure segment and this has been increasing year-on-year.” The destination which offers spectacular nature and great city experiences is also looking at tapping the MICE segment. McKenzie informed that they could build demand for travel which is a part of their federal tourism strategy. “India April 2013

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is an important market for us. In the future, we will focus on MICE traffic from India as the country holds a lot of potential in the segment. However the biggest challenge is the lack of awareness and marketing in this competitive market. We are now developing a MICE strategy. For this year, we have been given a budget of one-two million Canadian dollars. And we will not only continue tapping the Tier I cities but also the Tier II cities. We will soon be launching the Signature Experiences of Canada. A cooperative deal with the film industry is also in the process to facilitate film shootings in Canada.” Vancouver sees the Asia Pacific region as a huge potential MICE market. Stephanie Johnson, directorbusiness development Asia Pacific, Vancouver Convention Centre informed that the centre can accommodate between 500-1000 persons on an average in conference style and in theatre style about 6,000 persons. “Vancouver will be a green destination by 2020. And keeping the sustainability aspect in mind, we have our own beehive and sewage treatment plants in the convention centre. Since eastern Canada is mostly preferred by Indians, we have to start increasing awareness about promoting Vancouver. The largest group that we handled was 1,800 persons. We have handled a smaller conference of 200 persons from India. ” Adding to that, Dayna Miller, director of sales, travel trade, Tourism Vancouver replied that there needs to be a destination feature to create awareness

about the MICE practices which we are a leader in. “For the same, our strategy will mainly focus on travel trade and develop products accordingly. Since it is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver is a must visit destination. We see huge potential from the FIT and MICE markets and hope to see an increase in the promotional budgets. Apart from Mumbai and Delhi, we would be looking at other tertiary destinations,” opined Miller. Priding on being the number one incentive destination in major source markets like US, UK, Germany and Japan, Julie Canning, president and CEO, Banff Lake Tourism, opined, “Indian travellers have a different version of adventure. It is important to understand different culture and what they want to do. Partnerships are important. But since the last five years, there has been significant growth through word of mouth. Over the years, what we have gathered is that it is mostly the experienced travellers who visit Canada.” Even Kevin Henderson, assistant general manager, Mountain Park Lodges in Jasper was of the opinion that Indians preferred soft adventure activities. “Over the last five years we have seen Indian travellers growing more than China apart from Europe being our main source market,” he stated. Receiving an equal share of leisure and MICE travellers, Ontario, a commercial hub, is looking at highlighting Toronto. Harvey Hamazaki, trade consultant, Asia, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation added, EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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“Experiential tourism and MICE is what we are looking at focusing on. We saw about 80,000 travellers in 2010 and a 15 per cent increase in 2011. Blue Mountain village is the new destination that we are promoting for skiing.” Adding to the same, Josef Ebner, regional vice president and managing director, Delta Chelsea said, “We do good business from this market. We work with all the DMCs in India and get equal ratio of leisure and MICE guests. Our biggest source markets are UK, Germany, Japan, Brazil, China and then India. We also see the MICE segment as a potential area to be tapped and are equipped to provide facilities for conferencing for 400-500 persons.” Niagara is another area which has seen growing demand for MICE. Anastasia

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Belashov, manager international tour and travel tradeAsia Pacific, Niagara Falls Tourism Visitor and Convention Bureau informed, “We see mostly incentive groups in Niagara. There are some challenges in terms of air connectivity, visa, and distance, hence the target is on high-end incentive groups though the area is mostly known as a leisure destination.” While Tourism Quebec boasts of experiential tourism – culture, music, shopping and heritage, Roch Paquette, market advisor, Tourisme Quebec stated that the tourism board aims to establish new connections. Since we are not ready to reach out to the market directly we prefer promoting our offerings through DMCs. “I am happy that we also signed our first contract here at the event,” he said.

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With Ottawa Tourism visiting the event for the last four years, Diane Houston, director of travel trade, Ottawa Tourism said, “We have been closely working with the Ontario Tourism team. With reference to biking trails in the city we are more recreational minded and hence take opportunities to experience certain adventure activities and we encourage the same to travellers visiting Ottawa. We offer white water rafting and over 80 golf courses.” This year, British Columbia which is gearing up to host a Bollywood extravaganza event, is hopeful of attracting 2,50,000 tourists. Monica Leeck, market development manager, Asia, British Columbia said, “We are expecting a 10-15 per cent increase in tourist numbers this year. With our high seasons being from

May-September we are looking at attracting large incentive groups. The Alaska cruises are popular in India and we also have the Disney Cruise Line coming in this year.”

Way forward CTC will be unveiling its Signature Experiences Collection (SEC) in India by April 2013. The SEC includes a group of tourism products in Canada that provide authentic, once-ina-lifetime exotic experiences of the country. Chretien stated that CTC had a soft launch of the product in New Delhi last year. She also mentioned that CTC is looking at building relationships with the local travel trade. From the budget allocated to CTC, they plan to spend 80 per cent on trade advertising, business events, trade FAMs, and travel agent education sessions. Maxime also stated that after his meeting with Dr K Chiranjeevi, minister of state with independent charge for tourism, Government of India, Canada is in the process of signing an MoU with India on tourism cooperation. Maxime opined that the Indian middle-class represents one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets in the world and that the Canadian government is committed to making the country a preferred destination for Indian travellers. He added, “Today’s record number of visas issued will be tomorrow’s benchmark, and we expect traveller numbers to Canada to continue to increase in the future.” April 2013


Travel

Life

HR & TRAINING

Going the extra mile With a focused business strategy of changing the colour of cabs that ply on Mumbai’s streets, TABcab is equally committed to providing the best in terms of earning opportunity, incentives and training to the men who are behind the wheels. By Sudipta Dev ll set to change the colour of the ubiquitous sight on Mumbai streets – the black and yellow cabs – to white and red cab fleet, TABcab that is introducing 4000 cabs by 2013 and 20,000 in the next five years, understands that the most important partner of it’s strategic vision are the chauffeurs. TABcab, a venture by SMS Taxicabs, a subsidiary of Nagpur headquartered SMS Infrastructure, has a strong training and CSR focus for their ‘Saathis’, as the chauffeurs are addressed in the company. Launched in February 2012, there are currently 1850 Toyota Etios and Maruti Suzuki SX4 plying the roads with more being rolled out gradually. “The car is our asset, the chauffeur drives it and pays us rent. They are not our employees, it is more an entrepreneurial model. We have always had this philosophy from the initiation of the business itself that though they are not our employees there are lots of challenges that a chauffeur goes through. We are very sensitive about giving maximum support to them and believe in going that extra mile. Whatever their unions had been demanding for years, we have already done that in the first year itself,” says Prasenjeet Bagchi, chief marketing officer, TABcab- SMS Taxicabs. The company provides them with a support system called the Aadhar Scheme - Barah Hazar ki Guarantee, which ensures that every chauffeur takes home ` 12000 a month, even if he does less business. For example, if a driver makes only ` 8000 a month , then the company compensates by giving him ` 4000 more. “This is

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a very important support for them. Insurance for them is already there. We also take care of health insurance. The company also provides education expense for one child, for the whole year. Extra leaves are given to the drivers, which were not there earlier,” adds Bagchi. A loyalty club has also been introduced, and based on the duration of the driver's engagement with company extra leaves and benefits are given. Besides, a new initiative called ‘Saathi Ghummakar’ has also been introduced for best performers - they are given a fully paid three days holiday along with family. The other CSR initiatives include health check up and eye check up camps - at airports and locations where they can go easily.

Training focus All the chauffeurs are trained in technical and soft skills. Every driver has to undergo a three-day training programme. The drivers are taxi badge holders. For getting

Prasenjeet Bagchi a taxi badge the minimum requirement is 15 years domicile of Maharashtra and five years residential ration card of Mumbai, Thane or Raigarh district. “But 90 per cent taxi drivers in Mumbai are outsiders so locals have not come into this trade. But of late outsiders have also been barred because of these two regulations and locals are not coming - there is a big gap between demand and supply. We have

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a requirement of 4000 drivers. Many of the divers working with our competitors have shifted to us, also black and yellow taxi drivers are coming to us,” states Bagchi, pointing out that there are two different segments of behaviour. The driver who is coming from phone fleet taxi business still understands a lot of things and has gone through some kind of training before. However, the driver of a black and yellow taxi has to firstly understand about the car, which is very different from what he has been driving and also learn the soft skills. “We train them on all of this as they have to meet the expectations of a new set of customers. Sensitisation happens and they learn how to behave with the customer. There is a behaviour change communication model,” informs Bagchi.

Safe cab ride TABcab has introduced a feature called Safe Assure to ensure safety and security of passengers if a woman / a child or senior citizen is travel-

ling alone. "We hotlist and track the cab and monitor that it does not go off the route. If it does we immediately call up the driver. We sensitise the driver prior to the travel that he has to safely drop the person and then give the company a confirmation call,” informs Bagchi. There are no extra charges for the Safe Assure feature. At the time of booking the cab, it has to be conveyed that the passenger wants to travel with Safe Assure feature and the tracking device will get activated. “In any case every cab is tracked real-time, but once it is hotlisted on Safe Assure feature it is further more prioritised on tracking,” mentions Bagchi. He asserts that every phone fleet taxi is safe because of mobile data terminal (MDT). “We further believe that TABcab is safer than other phone fleet taxis because we have a better IT system that enables us to track a cab better, which makes it safer. This even the driver knows so he will not do anything wrong,” he states. The first tendered radio taxi in India, after Mumbai the company plans to shift focus to Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. By the end of this year the the company hopes to start its Delhi operations. TABcab is also starting priority booking services for the travel trade and corporate segments soon. “That is, if they want to book ten single cabs on a single day we can provide that, which is right now not possible as it is a public transport system, regulated and metered taxi,” he informs. Within the frame of regulations, the company is trying to accommodate the customised service demands of the travel trade and corporate segments. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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British Airways

Airbus Yann Barbaux has been appointed chief innovation officer of Airbus, effective May 1, 2013. Barbaux's key mission will be to foster a strong innovation culture throughout Airbus.Together with his team, his mission is to encourage new ideas from all areas of the company and facilitate a rapid, systematic screening at the right decision making levels.

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Airbus has also appointed Véronique Creissels as head of communications, effective early June. Reporting directly to Airbus president and CEO, Creissels will oversee the following Airbus’ communication activities: Brand strategy, media relations, internal communications, exhibitions, events and hospitality as well as Web and images. Currently head of group communications at Vallourec, Creissels has a wealth of experience in aeronautics and high-technology industries.

Inmarsat

Diethelm Travel

Inmarsat has appointed Bill Peltola as senior director, aviation services in the Asia Pacific region. In this role, Peltola will be responsible for developing market opportunities for Inmarsat aviation services in the region, building on the company’s long standing leadership position in satellite-based, aviation safety services and introducing Global Xpress (GX), a globally available superfast mobile broadband service, delivered through Ka-band.

Diethelm Travel has appointed Edyta Peszko as group contracting director. Peszko, joins the Diethelm Travel Group having formerly held key regional management roles with Asia World, Hotelbeds (Pacific World) and Accor Asia Pacific.

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British Airways has appointed Robert Williams as its regional general manager for south east Asia. Based in Singapore, Williams will be responsible for the airline’s commercial activities across Singapore,Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, as well as Cambodia and Vietnam. Before relocating to Singapore to take up this role, he was alliance implementation manager, based at the airline’s headquarters at Waterside in Heathrow. Prior to that, he served as commercial manager for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Hilton Hilton has appointed Dominic Sherry as head of sales for Asia Pacific. In this capacity, Sherry will lead the sales force, manage key partnerships with third-party intermediaries and drive initiatives to increase the corporate, MICE and leisure business at Hilton’s hotels in Asia Pacific.

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Northrop and Johnson, Indonesia Eddie Widnall has been appointed as charter manager for Northrop and Johnson, Indonesia. Widnall joins Northrop and Johnson fresh from three years as a cruise director and dive guide on board Indonesianbased expedition yachts, primarily in Komodo National Park.

Hyatt Hyatt has appointed Alex Zoghlin as the company’s first global head of technology. In this role, Zoghlin will be responsible for all aspects of Hyatt’s technology platform and systems. He will lead the team charged with rapidly deploying innovative technology solutions to enable superior guest experiences and will be responsible for optimising the company’s technology resources.

Pegasus Solutions

Pegasus Solutions has appointed Rick Huntley as vice president - human resources. Huntley has more than three decades of experience, which includes guiding Pegasus as the company continues its global expansion plans. Most recently, Huntley served as vice president of human resources North America and Global for Intertek’s Oil, Chemical and Agri Division in Houston.

Starwood Starwood Hotels & Resorts has made two key appointments within its sales organisation. Asad Ahmed has been named vice president of sales for Starwood's Europe, Africa and Middle East division, and Alice HarringtonCaravello has been named vice president, global corporate sales, replacing Mary Casey who is now senior vice president of sales, North America.

April 2013


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April 2013


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Beautiful province

Sporting appeal

L-R: Monica Leeck, tourism manager, British Columbia, Canada with actor Neha Dhupia at the first travel trade event held to launch of its tourism campaign to woo Indian travellers in Mumbai

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation hosted celebrity beach cricket at Murud Harnai during the Dolphin and Turtle Festival 2013

GTA India roadshow

Fostering growth

His Excellency Khaled el Bakley, ambassador of Egypt to India and Egyptian minister of tourism Hisham Zaazou with other delegates in Mumbai to promote and facilitate investments, joint ventures in tourism

GTA recently organised its India roadshow in Mumbai wherein it brought in 24 hoteliers from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand

Invaluable contributions

L-R: Kiran Jyoti of Indian Routes LPTI - Le Passage to India; Rajiv Kaul, president, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts; Vivek Nair, chairman and managing director, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts and Deepak Bhatnagar, executive director, Le Passage to India at the Leela Travel Trade Awards hosted at The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon April 2013

Good cause

On the occasion of International Women’s Day GVK-CSIA supported a flash-mob to end violence against women organised by the Rotaract Club of Jai Hind College at the domestic terminal 1B Arrivals at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai

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Safety first

Diversified offerings

L-R: Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel Group; Bernard Nassiri, group sales director, Europcar and Arnd Rieken, group franchise director, Europcar at the signing of the exclusive distributorship contract with Europcar at ITB Berlin

Meru Cab celebrated International Women’s Day with the launch of SMS- based ‘Trip Tracker Service’ in Mumbai

Creativity captured

Sikkim festival

The three day Sikkim Festival 2013 held at Delhi's popular tourist destination Dilli Haat had around 10000 visitors on the opening day

L-R: Louise Asher, minister for tourism and major events, Victoria and photographer Atul Kasbekar inaugurate the Melbourne Moments Photography exhibition in Mumbai

Cultural tryst

Recognising effort

Kerala Tourism organised Kerala SuperHits, a cultural experience with music, dance and authentic cuisine in Mumbai

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Anamika Masurekar of FMC Travels, Delhi won a Chevrolet Beat as the winner of Lufthansa's 'Lufthansa Car Jeeto’ contest

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April 2013


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